Chapter 11: Grievance Procedures And Review

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The College provides methods for regular full-time and part-time staff members to seek timely and objective resolution of grievances and concerns arising in the workplace. Limited term employees, temporary employees, and employees in their orientation period do not have access to the grievance procedures and review.

The procedures described below differentiate between types of grievances and identifies the processes appropriate to each. The employee relations manager, the equal opportunity officer, and other staff in Human Resources are available for confidential initial consultations at any time.

Non-Retaliation Policy

Employees may use the procedures described below without fear of retaliation from supervisors or others against whom a complaint may be lodged. Retaliation against any member of the community for good faith participat ion in the procedures described below is a violation of College policy. Retaliation will not be tolerated and will be subject to College disciplinary procedures up to and including dismissal. Any violation of this policy should be reported to Human Resources, the EO officer or another appropriate College resource person immediately (e.g., associate vice president of Human Resources or vice president for College and Community Relations).

Good Faith Participation

The grievance process is dependent upon the willingness of all those involved to participate in good faith, whether as a complainant, respondent, witness or support person. Accordingly, it is expected that staff members will participate in the grievance procedure in an open, civil and respectful manner that is aimed at productive resolution. Should an employee be found to have knowingly and intentionally brought forward a false charge, provided false witness or in any other way knowingly and intentionally acts to thwart the grievance procedure process, they could be subject to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal.

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Support Person

At any stage of the grievance process you may have a campus support person of your choice (a coworker, or another staff or faculty member) participate with you subject to her or his availability, in order to help you present your concern effectively and to provide you with moral support. Your support person is permitted, but not required, to speak on your behalf. If you don't have anyone in mind but would like a support person, the EO officer and ER manager have a list of staff and faculty members who are available to serve as staff advocates or support persons. Please note that, since these reviews are internal campus processes, the support person must be a Swarthmore College employee, rather than anyone from outside the College.

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Confidentiality

It is important to recognize that understanding the nature of the complaint and facilitating resolution typically requires speaking with others. The EO officer and/or employee relations manager will take this step only when necessary to resolve the complaint and only with those persons relevant to the resolution of the complaint.

It is presumed that all participants of a grievance (i.e., complainant, respondent, interviewees, witnesses, supervisors, support persons, members of the grievance panel, etc.) will maintain the confidentiality of the proceedings to ensure an unencumbered resolution process.

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Channels for Review

These processes are designed to help both staff members and supervisors constructively understand and address work-related conflicts. Depending on the nature of the conflict, there are different channels of review. Some types of issues lend themselves to grievance review. Other issues may not technically be grievances but still may warrant review by a higher-level administrator. There are two types of grievances and one channel for administrative review:

Discrimination Grievance

This grievance process is for those issues that the person bringing the grievance believes involve discrimination on the basis of sex, race, color, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, marital status, medical condition, veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected category. This policy is consistent with relevant governmental statutes and regulations, including those pursuant to Title IX of the Federal Education Amendments of 1972 and Section 504 of the Federal Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Standard Grievance

This grievance process is for disputed disciplinary actions regarding job performance, such as disciplinary warnings, suspensions, and/or terminations of employment for unsatisfactory performance or misconduct. Also included in this category are performance evaluations.

Administrative /Managerial Review

There are several types of issues that are appropriate for Administrative/Managerial review. Administrative concerns regarding such issues as job titles, individual rates of pay, job grades, work assignments, work unit or position restructuring are subject to review in conjunction with Human Resources through departmental and administrative reporting lines. Concerns about mismanagement or the appropriateness of managerial action taken or not taken are subject to review by managers at the next higher level, up to and including the Board of Managers where appropriate. Other concerns which may not be appropriate for either of the grievance processes, such as interpersonal conflict between employees, may also be handled through administrative/managerial review.

If there is any question about which review process is appropriate for a given complaint, the associate vice president of Human Resources, together with the equal opportunity officer, will determine the appropriate channel. Each review process is described below.

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Discrimination Procedure

Under normal circumstances, the time frames referred to herein should be followed. Any change in these timeframes must be authorized by the EO Officer in consultation with all involved parties. These timeframes do not include days when the College is not open for normal operations or days when either the grievant or the respondent are unavailable due to illness or previously scheduled time away.

Step 1. Seek Informal Resolution Within Thirty Days

If you believe you have been the victim of discrimination or harassment because of any legally prohibited or College recognized factor such as age, race, religion, sex (including sexual harassment), national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, pregnancy status, or veteran status - you may discuss the concern with the perceived offender or your supervisor, if you are comfortable doing so.

If you are not comfortable speaking with the perceived offender or your supervisor, or you have done so and have received an unfavorable result, you should contact the equal opportunity officer within thirty days of the last action believed to have been discrimination. The equal opportunity officer will be able to answer questions and help facilitate an informal resolution of the concern.

Depending on the nature and severity of your concern, the equal opportunity officer will conduct a prompt and thorough investigation which may require collecting and analyzing data and/or speaking with others. The equal opportunity officer will submit findings of the investigation and any recommendations to you and the supervisor, with copies to other managers as appropriate.

The equal opportunity officer may suggest informal methods of resolution which may involve, but are not limited to, any one or more of the following: a meeting of the parties, mediation, counseling, training, or disciplinary action.

Step 2. Review by Respondent's Supervisor

If informal methods to resolve the concern were unsuccessful and you wish to file a grievance, submit a Request for Formal Review to the equal opportunity officer. The Request for Formal Review serves as your written complaint. This form is available from the equal opportunity officer who can also provide assistance in completing it.

A copy of the Request for Formal Review will be given to the alleged offender ("respondent"). Other copies will be distributed to the respondent's direct supervisor and the next level of management.

Within five days of receiving the completed Request for Formal Review, the EO officer will arrange a meeting between the complainant and the respondent's supervisor. If the complainant wishes, the EO officer can attend the meeting to facilitate the discussion. The complainant's support person may also attend.

Within ten days following the meeting, the supervisor must provide the complainant with a written response analyzing the issues at hand and determining whether any actions are warranted. A copy must also be given to the equal opportunity officer. You may appeal the decision of the supervisor to a grievance review panel by notifying the equal opportunity officer in writing within five days.

Step 3. Review by Grievance Review Panel

A Grievance Review Panel normally will be convened within 10 days of receipt of your request for appeal. If the grievance involves termination of employment, every effort will be made to expedite the review process. A panel consists of three Swarthmore College employees who will hear the grievance. There are additional guidelines to forming the grievance panel, which will be explained in detail by the equal opportunity officer at this stage in the process. The complainant may select one of the panelists, the supervisor of the respondent may designate one panelist, and those two panelists will select a third person, who serves on, and chairs, the panel. If the parties don't have anyone in mind to select as a panelist, the equal opportunity officer can provide a list of Swarthmore College staff and faculty members who are available to serve as panelists. The equal opportunity officer will give all panelists training on equal opportunity issues and the role of the panel before serving. The equal opportunity officer schedules and facilitates the meeting. The equal opportunity and employee relations officers serve as resources regarding College policy/practice, relevant employment and equal opportunity laws, and collect any information and documentation needed by the panel, but neither officer has a decision-making role.

At the panel review hearing, you will have the opportunity to explain to the panel why you believe the decision of the department is incorrect and why it should be modified or overturned. The department will have the opportunity to explain why the supervisor or manager took the action and why she/he thinks the action was appropriate and should be upheld. The panel may ask the EO officer to share findings of any investigation and any recommendations. The parties may each present a list of witnesses who are believed to have first-hand knowledge about the events giving rise to the action and who may support a party's case. The panel can decide whether it wishes to interview a proposed witness.

Within ten days following the completion of its hearing(s), the panel will submit a report of its findings and any recommendations to you and the respondent's supervisor. The respondent's supervisor will have five days to submit a response to the panel's report to you. A copy must also be given to the equal opportunity officer.
Either party may appeal the decision of the Grievance Review Panel to the president by notifying the equal opportunity officer in writing within five days.

Step 4. Review and Final Decision by President

Review by the president will only be allowed on the grounds of significant procedural error or inadequate consideration, as assessed by the president. If the president deems the appeal appropriate, he or she will determine the method and depth of the review. The president will issue a written decision within a timely manner. Decisions of the president are final.

If the employee is not satisfied with the final decision of the president and wishes to pursue the matter further, she/he may request assistance from the equal opportunity officer in identifying appropriate state and federal agencies with which the employee may wish to consult.

STANDARD GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE

Under normal circumstances, the time frames referred to herein should be followed. Any change in these time frames must be authorized by the employee relations officer in consultation with all involved parties. These timeframes, unless otherwise specified, do not include days when the College is not open for normal operations or days when either the grievant or the respondent are unavailable due to illness or previously scheduled time away.

Step 1. Informal Discussion with a Supervisor or Manager

It is the goal of the College to resolve concerns informally whenever possible. If problems arise in a work situation, the people closest to the situation should have the first opportunity to try to work through issues or disagreements. In many cases, concerns can be resolved through effective dialogue between staff members and their supervisors and departmental administrators. The College strives for a positive workplace in which good communication helps avoid problems and quickly resolves concerns when they arise.

If you believe your supervisor has inappropriately issued a performance counseling action, disciplinary warning, suspension, or termination for misconduct or unsatisfactory performance, and if you are comfortable doing so, discuss the concern with your supervisor within thirty calendar days of the action.

If you are uncomfortable approaching your supervisor directly, you may bring your concern to either the employee relations (ER) manager in Human Resources or the College's equal opportunity (EO) officer within thirty calendar days of the action. The ER manager or EO officer may be able to help answer questions for you or help facilitate an informal resolution of your concern.

The ER manager or EO officer will give you and the supervisor written notice once informal attempts to resolve your concern have concluded. The supervisor will have ten days following this notification to give you a written response to your concern.

There could be occasions with Step 1 of the procedure may not be appropriate.  In such a case, the grievant may choose to waive Step 1 and begin the grievance at Step 2.

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Step 2. Review by Next Level Manager

If informal methods do not resolve the concern to your satisfaction, and you would like to file a grievance, you should complete a Request for Formal Review within five days of receipt of the written response from your supervisor. The form is available from either the ER manager or EO officer and both are available for advice and assistance in filling it out. The form asks you to describe why you think the action taken by your supervisor is inappropriate, why you think it should be modified or overturned, and what resolution you are seeking. Your department head and the next level manager will receive a copy of the form as notification that a request for review has been filed.

Within five days of receiving the Grievance Form the ER manager will arrange a meeting between you and the next level manager. If you wish, the ER manager can attend the meeting to facilitate the discussion. If you have a support person, he or she may also attend.

Within ten days following the meeting, the next level manager must provide you with a written response analyzing the issues at hand and determining whether he or she feels any actions are warranted. If you don't get a timely response, or if you do not consider the issue to be satisfactorily addressed by the response from the manager, you should notify the employee relations manager in writing within five days that you wish to pursue your appeal to a Grievance Review Panel.

Step 3 . Review by Grievance Review Panel

A Grievance Review Panel normally will be convened within 10 days of receipt of your request for appeal barring any difficulties in selecting and scheduling the panel. If the grievance involves termination of employment, every effort will be made to expedite the review process. The panel consists of three Swarthmore College employees who will hear the positions of the parties and may choose to call witnesses with first-hand knowledge. The complainant may select one of the panelists, the supervisor of the respondent may designate one panelist, and those two panelists will select a third person, who serves on, and chairs, the panel. If the parties don't have anyone in mind to select as a panelist, the employee relations manager can provide a list of Swarthmore College staff and faculty members who are available to serve as panelists. There are additional timeframes and guidelines to selecting and convening the grievance panel, which will be explained in detail by the employee relations manager at this stage in the process.

The employee relations manager will give all panelists training on relevant policy or legal issues and the role of the panel before serving. The employee relations manager schedules and facilitates the meeting. The employee relations manager and the equal opportunity officer also serve as resources regarding College policy/practice, relevant employment and equal opportunity laws, and collect any information and documentation needed by the panel, but neither officer has a decision-making role.

Either party may appeal the decision of the Grievance Review Panel to the president by notifying the employee relations officer in writing within five days.

Step 4. Review and Final Decision by President

Review by the president will only be allowed on the grounds of significant procedural error or inadequate consideration, as assessed by the president. If the president deems the appeal appropriate, he or she will determine the method and depth of the review. The president will issue a written decision within a timely manner. Decisions of the president are final.

Administrative/Managerial Review

Concerns regarding such administrative issues as job titles, individual rates of pay, and job grades, are subject to review in conjunction with Human Resources through departmental and administrative reporting lines. Please see your supervisor or Human Resources if your concern is in one of these areas.

Concerns about mismanagement or the appropriateness of managerial action taken or not taken are subject to review by managers at the next higher level, up to and including the Board of Managers where appropriate. If you have a concern in this area, you may discuss the issue with the individual supervising the manager about whom you have concerns. If you are unsatisfied with the response you receive, you may continue all the way up the managerial chain until you reach the president. If you are still unsatisfied with the response you receive from the president, or if the concern you have is about the president, you may directly contact the chair of the Audit Subcommittee of the Finance Committee of the Board of Managers by writing to them at audit@swarthmore.edu. If you are not comfortable with any of these steps and would like assistance, please contact the Equal Opportunity Officer, the Employee Relations Manager, the Human Resources Department or the Office of the President.

Concerns about other issues, such as interpersonal conflict, begin with a discussion with either your supervisor or the ER manager. After a discussion of the issues, decisions will be made jointly about how to proceed. Options may include mediation, counseling and/or intervention.

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