Policy Number: 127
I. POLICY AND GENERAL STATEMENT
The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (“university”) encourages fair, efficient and equitable solutions for problems or disputes arising out of the employment relationship. The university strongly recommends that individuals experiencing problems attempt to resolve them informally before exercising the grievance process. Faculty members are strongly encouraged to discuss concerns openly with the individual with whom the problem exists before proceeding with this process.
Upon separation of a faculty member from the university, dispute resolution and grievance processes end.
This policy applies to grievances of faculty members concerning actions of supervisors, department chairs or equivalent and deans as to work load, compensation, working conditions, infringement of academic freedom, and the interpretation of a rule, regulation or policy. This policy also applies to some complaints not covered under separate policies. Topics addressed by separate policies, including research misconduct and disputes over non-reappointment, tenure, promotion, and termination are not covered by this policy. See HOOP Policies 44 Faculty Reappointment and Non-reappointment, 202 Honesty in Research, 115 Faculty Tenure, 43 Faculty Promotion and 133 Faculty Termination. Complaints regarding harassment or discrimination shall be addressed under the procedures in HOOP Policy 183 Equal Opportunity, Discrimination and Harassment.
B. Retaliation and Confidentiality
No faculty member will be penalized or disciplined for filing a grievance or for aiding another faculty member in the presentation of a grievance. Faculty members who believe they have been penalized or disciplined for doing so should follow the procedures in HOOP Policy 108 Protection from Retaliation. Acts or threats of retaliation in response to grievances may subject the person retaliating to disciplinary action, up to and including termination. Persons filing grievances with reckless disregard for the truth or in willful ignorance of the facts are excluded from protection and may be subjected to disciplinary action, up to and including termination.
A. Informal Resolution
The university encourages communication between faculty members and administrators to resolve workplace concerns promptly.
If an agreement is not reached through informal efforts to resolve workplace concerns, the faculty member may pursue the grievance procedure outlined below.
To initiate a formal grievance, the faculty member shall present the grievance in writing to the appropriate administrator within seven calendar days from the date of the action that is the subject of the grievance. Relevant documents or any other information pertinent to the matter should also be provided. Once the grievance has been submitted in writing, it cannot be changed.
Grievances concerning immediate supervisors should be directed to the department chair; grievances against a department chair should be directed to the dean; grievances concerning a dean should be directed to the Executive Vice President for Academic and Research Affairs (EVPARA).
The administrator initially in receipt of the grievance (“administrator”) will forward a copy of the grievance to the party against whom the grievance is brought. This party will have the opportunity to respond in writing and submit documents or materials in support of his or her position. The party against whom the grievance is brought will respond to the grievance within seven calendar days of receipt of the copy of the grievance from the administrator. The administrator will respond to the grievance within 14 calendar days of receipt of the grievance.
Failure to respond to a grievance within the time limit results in an automatic appeal of the grievance to the next administrative level. Calculation of calendar days does not include holidays or "skeleton crew" days indicated on the published university calendar. A time limit may be extended by the EVPARA for good cause as determined in the sole discretion of the EVPARA.
If the grievance is not resolved to the satisfaction of the faculty member by the administrator with whom it was filed or was not responded to in accordance with the timelines outlined in this policy, the faculty member may appeal the grievance in the following order:
- department chair
- appropriate dean or designee
- EVPARA or designee
- President or designee
Appeals that reach the EVPARA may be submitted to the Faculty Grievance Committee (“Committee”) for an inquiry at the request of the grievant or at the election of the EVPARA. If the EVPARA or grievant makes such an election, the EVPARA will submit the appeal to the Committee within 7 calendar days of receipt of notification that a Committee has been constituted.
Appeals must be filed with the appropriate administrator within seven calendar days of receipt by the faculty member of the lower level decision. Appeals must be responded to in accordance with the following time limits:
- Department chairs and deans shall respond within seven calendar days following receipt of the appeal.
- The EVPARA shall respond within seven calendar days following receipt of the appeal (unless the appeal is forwarded to the Committee, see Section D below).
- The President shall respond within 14 calendar days of receipt of the appeal. The President shall respond by certified mail addressed to the grievant at the faculty member’s address on file with Human Resources.
The decision of the President is final.
D. Faculty Grievance Committee (“Committee”)
The Committee is an ad hoc advisory committee appointed by the Interfaculty Council (“IFC”). The IFC will constitute a duly appointed Committee within seven calendar days of the request for a Committee from the EVPARA. The EVPARA will notify the chair of the IFC to constitute a Committee and provide sufficient information, such as the school and/or department of the grievant, to avoid conflicts of interest. The Committee will consider the appeal and provide a written recommendation to the EVPARA.
The Committee will choose a chair from among its members who will be responsible for scheduling a time and place for the inquiry. Such inquiry must take place no later than 30 calendar days from the date on which the IFC was notified of the desire for Committee review. The chair will also request the parties to the grievance submit written statements of their positions with regard to the grievance, and provide the names of persons with relevant information and copies of relevant documents concerning the grievance to the chair at least seven calendar days before the inquiry. The chair will ensure relevant documents are identified and distributed to Committee members and notify other persons with information relevant to the inquiry of the need to appear at the inquiry. The Committee will be staffed by the Office of the EVPARA.
During the inquiry, members of the Committee may ask questions of the parties and of other persons with information relevant to the inquiry. The parties or their representatives will not be allowed to question witnesses except at the discretion of the chair.
All interactions between the Committee, parties to the grievance, and other persons questioned at the inquiry will be audio recorded.
After the inquiry, the Committee will deliberate and provide a written recommendation to the EVPARA within 14 calendar days from the date of the first inquiry meeting. All materials and records concerning the grievance inquiry will be forwarded to the EVPARA with the recommendation. The EVPARA will respond to the grievant within seven calendar days of receipt of the recommendation from the Committee.
Upon completion of the grievance process, all recordings, documents and materials related to the formal grievance will be forwarded to the EVPARA for storage.
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