University Grievance Policy for Employees
The Office of Human Resources ("HR") is a resource for all faculty, staff, and administrators (hereinafter collectively referred to as "Employees"), as well as supervisors and department heads on all matters arising in the workplace. HR staff are available for discussion about work-related issues at any time. Employees can request to discuss issues concerning their work environment with their supervisor or department head, HR staff, or their academic Dean or the Provost without the discussion being considered part of these grievance procedures.
Purpose and Prohibition Against Retaliation
These grievance procedures are intended to provide a structured framework under which Employees can address grievable work-related matters, as defined in Section II. Inquiries under these procedures are limited to whether the process involved failed to comply substantially with established policy or procedure, or the recommended action or sanction was arbitrary and capricious and thus fundamentally unfair, not with whether the reviewing administrator or committee would have reached a different result on the merits based on their personal judgment. It is not the purpose of these procedures to have an administrator or committee substitute its judgment on the substance of the original recommendation or decision.
For purposes of these procedures, "Faculty" shall be defined as it is in the Faculty Handbook, as it may change.
All steps in these grievance procedures, including contents of grievance documents, communications and deliberations, are to be handled confidentially to the extent possible in accordance with University policy and applicable law. Information should be shared only with those who have a legitimate need to know for University business/operational purposes or in order to address the grievance.
No University employee shall retaliate against a grievant or anyone participating in a grievance matter. Complaints of prohibited retaliation will be investigated by the Executive Director of HR or designee; violations of University policy will result in appropriate discipline.
Scope of Grievable Work-Related Matters for Employees
Note: What constitutes a "grievable work-related matter" under these procedures differs depending on whether an Employee is a member of the faculty or a staff/administrative employee. This recognizes the distinction between at-will and contract employment, as well as the existence of procedures already in place to address certain types of recommendations and decisions impacting faculty.
A "grievable work-related matter" is a complaint regarding the process used in a recommendation or decision directly adverse to the Employee, except that a grievance may not relate to:
- compensation or benefits;
- discrimination covered by University policies including but not limited to the Policy on Prohibited Discrimination, Harassment, and Retaliation Other than Sex or the Interim Sexual Discrimination and Misconduct Policy;
- For non-Faculty employees: a hiring decision, position classification, work assignment, performance evaluation, transfer within the University, or reduction in force, or termination; and
- For Faculty: appointment, evaluation, reappointment, tenure, promotion or dismissal (which are covered by other existing procedures).
Before bringing a grievance under these procedures, Employees must attempt an informal resolution in good faith, typically beginning with a frank and open discussion with the appropriate person or persons. Such informal resolution discussions could involve the assistance of a mutually agreeable neutral third-party member of the University community, if desired, which could be a member of the HR staff, an academic administrator, or other mutually agreeable person. Employees are encouraged to consult with HR staff or appropriate academic or other administrators to clarify questions of policy, precedent, or possible alternative approaches to resolving the concern(s).
Employees should initiate informal resolution efforts within ten (10) business days following the day the Employee (the "grievant") became aware of the facts or incident forming the basis of the grievable work-related matter.
Grievance Petition Process
If the matter is not resolved through informal resolution, the Employee may submit a written grievance petition no later than thirty (30) business days after becoming aware of the facts or incident forming the basis of the grievable work-related matter. The grievance processes outlined below provide the different paths for grievances for (a) non-Faculty Employees, staff and administrators and (b) Faculty.
A. Filing of Petition; Determination of Sufficiency; Response to Grievance Petition
The grievant first submits a written grievance petition within thirty (30) days after becoming aware of the facts or incident forming the basis of the grievable work-related matter. Non-Faculty Employees should submit their petition to the Executive Director of HR or designee, and Faculty should submit their petition to the appropriate academic administrator. For Faculty grievances relating to department, department chair, or academic dean recommendations or decisions, the grievance should be submitted to the Provost or designee. For Faculty grievances relating to a recommendation or decision of the Provost, the grievance should be submitted to the President or designee.
The grievance petition must be submitted within thirty (30) days of the grievant becoming aware of the facts or incident forming the basis of the grievable work-related matter. The Executive Director of HR, Provost, President, or their designee(s) may extend this time period in his/her/their sole discretion.
The grievant's written petition must state against whom the grievance is directed, set forth in detail the nature of the grievance and the specific process defects claimed, and include any other information that the grievant considers relevant. The grievant should provide all necessary documentation supporting the claims in the petition. The grievant may later amend the petition only to include information newly discovered since the original petition submission, if deemed relevant and approved by the Executive Director of HR, Provost, President, or any of their designees in his/her/their sole discretion, as appropriate.
For non-Faculty Employee grievances, the Executive Director of HR or designee will review the grievance petition to determine whether it will proceed in the grievance process. For Faculty grievances, the Provost, President, or designee will notify the Chair of the Faculty Review Committee ("FRC") of the grievance and both will review the grievance petition to determine whether it should proceed in the grievance process.
In making the determination on whether the petition will proceed in the grievance process, consideration should be given to whether the grievance petition (a) complains only of matters that are not grievable, as described above, or (b) makes only allegations that, even when taken in the light most favorable to the grievant, would not warrant or require any remedial action or relief, or (c) otherwise has no likelihood of success and does not merit a detailed investigation, If a decision is made that the matter should proceed in the grievance process, it will move forward. For Faculty grievances, if either the Provost or designee/President or designee concludes that the matter should proceed in the grievance process, it will move forward. The grievant will be informed of any decision to dismiss the grievance petition. A determination that the matter may not be grieved is final.
Once a determination has been made that the grievance will proceed, a copy of the grievance petition will be provided to the person against whom the grievance is named (hereinafter, the "respondent"), as well as notice that they are afforded ten (10) business days to provide a written response. If the respondent chooses to submit a response, the response should be submitted to the Executive Director of HR or designee for non-Faculty Employee matters, and the Chair of FRC or designee for Faculty matters. The response should include any information that the respondent considers relevant and any documentation refuting the claims in the petition. Upon receipt, a copy will be provided to the grievant. For Faculty matters, a copy will also be provided to the Provost, President, or designee(s), as appropriate.
The Executive Director of HR, Provost, President, Chair of FRC, or any of their designees may require the grievant and the respondent to engage in mediation, and assign a neutral mediator for the parties, who will schedule a meeting to help the parties resolve the matter. If mediation is not required, the grievant may move to the next step of the process. Alternatively, if a resolution of the grievance is not achieved through mediation, the mediator will report the impasse, and the grievant may then move to the next step of the grievance process.
C. Grievance Inquiry and Report
If a non-Faculty Employee matter is not resolved through mediation, the grievant may elect to have the Executive Director of HR or designee conduct an inquiry or may request that the Executive Director or designee appoint a grievance committee of three (3) individuals from the Washington and Lee community to conduct the formal inquiry. Whether to empanel a grievance committee is within the sole discretion of the Executive Director or designee. If either party believes that a designated member of a grievance committee is not able to address the matter impartially, the party may request that the Executive Director or designee substitute another member, which decision is in the sole discretion of the Executive Director of HR or designee. Likewise, any individual may recuse themselves if they believe they cannot be impartial or objective.
If a faculty matter is not resolved through mediation, the FRC will conduct an inquiry into the grievance. The Chair of FRC may, in the Chair's sole discretion, appoint a subcommittee of three or more FRC members (not including the Chair) to handle an inquiry in lieu of the entire FRC. In this section the term "inquiry committee" refers to whichever group is handling the inquiry. If either party believes that a designated member of the inquiry committee is not able to address the matter impartially, the party may request that the Chair substitute another FRC member, which decision is in the sole discretion of the Chair. Likewise, any member of FRC may recuse themselves if they believe they cannot be impartial and objective.
The inquiry will involve review of the documentation submitted by the parties and may also involve interviewing the parties, interviewing others with relevant information, and reviewing additional relevant documents. Either or both parties may request an opportunity to be heard, to add to or explain the written record. Whether to grant the request for non-Faculty Employees is within the sole discretion of the Executive Director of HR, designee, or grievance committee. Whether to grant the request for Faculty matters will be within the sole discretion of the inquiry committee. The Chair of FRC will be an adviser to the inquiry committee and the parties on matters of process and questions of
At the conclusion of the inquiry, for non-Faculty Employee grievances, the Executive Director of Human Resources or designee or the grievance committee will issue a decision to the partied, and, if appropriate, recommendations. For Faculty grievances, the inquiry committee will issue a decision, and recommendations, if any, and will provide a copy to the Provost, President, or their designee(s), as appropriate.
D. Objection to Decision and Recommendations
An objection to a decision or recommendation may be made only on the following grounds: (1) the process involved failed to comply substantially with established policy or procedure; or (2) the recommended action or sanction was arbitrary and capricious and thus fundamentally unfair, If any party wishes to object to the decision or recommendation, that party must file a detailed objection within ten (10) business days of issuance of the decision, setting out the specific basis supporting the objection, including citations to the record if appropriate, with either the Executive Director of HR or designee, or the Chair of FRC, as appropriate.
After a written objection is received, the written record of the grievance will be provided for review to the Executive Director of HR or designee for non-Faculty Employee matters, or the Provost, President, or designee, as appropriate, for Faculty matters, The Executive Director of HR, Provost, President, or any of their designee(s) also may consult with the grievance or inquiry committee in reviewing the record. The decision on whether to sustain or dismiss the objection is final.
If no party objects to the decision or recommendation, or all objections have been dismissed, the decision and recommendation will become final. For non-Employee Faculty grievances, the Executive Director of HR or designee will oversee follow up on the final decision to resolve the matter. For Faculty grievances, the Provost, President, or designee will oversee follow up to resolve the matter.