Policy Number: E24.0
Policy Name: FACULTY GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
The Faculty Grievance Committee is an university committee established to provide an orderly and formal resolution of serious differences of opinion in which a faculty member or group of faculty members feel injured or dealt with unjustly. The Faculty Grievance Committee is responsible only to and will report directly to the president of RIT.
a. Members of the Faculty Grievance Committee are appointed by the Academic Senate and consist of three professors and two associate professors, all tenured.
b. Members serve on the Faculty Grievance Committee for three-year terms. Appointments are staggered so that no more than one professor and one associate professor are appointed each year. Any associate professor member who is promoted to professor during the term of office will continue to serve out the three-year appointment and be counted as an associate professor in the makeup of the committee. Terms of office begin on July 1 and expire on June 30 of any given year, except that service on any individual grievance before the committee shall continue until the case is resolved or concluded. The Academic Senate also appoints on a yearly basis two appropriately ranked persons available for service as alternates if a regular member should be absent or disqualified for any given case.
c. The chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee is selected on a yearly basis by the members of the committee from among their own membership. Before July 1 of any year, the previous year's chair should convene the committee for the purposes of selecting a chair and meeting other organization needs for the coming year.
The Faculty Grievance Committee will determine whether due process has been fairly administered in cases where personal justice is involved. Usually these cases concern pay, promotion, adherence to academic standards, academic freedom, tenure, contracts, schedule and dismissal. The committee will not substitute its substantive judgment on such matters for those of regularly constituted authorities or committees. The committee is authorized to make any recommendations to the president it believes are necessary to assure fair treatment to a faculty member or group of faculty members. The committee will make such recommendations specifically in cases where proper procedures have not been followed or if followed have not been fairly administered; e.g., badly communicated, shortened in time, arbitrarily interpreted, or administered in a manner contradictory to the spirit of the procedures or to other RIT policies or procedures. The clear intent is that each faculty member or group of faculty members, if all else fails, is assured of a hearing by the Faculty Grievance Committee, but only on the grounds of unfair treatment.
The procedures are guidelines which the Faculty Grievance Committee and other parties involved must make a good faith effort to follow. Failure to comply with any specific detail, however, will not constitute grounds for questioning the validity of the committee's work if the deviation occurs for good reason.
a. Informal Resolution
The Faculty Grievance Committee will handle no case until all informal possibilities for resolving the alleged grievance have been exhausted. At a minimum, informal resources would include the faculty member or group of faculty members making a good faith attempt to resolve the problem by discussing the grievance with the appropriate director or department head at the earliest opportunity. If this attempt is unsuccessful, the faculty member or faculty members may submit a request to the dean of the college involved for an informal discussion of the grievance. The request must be written, signed, state the reason for filing the request and name the person or persons involved. If the grievance remains unresolved and the faculty member or group wishes to pursue it further, a précis of the case must be submitted to the provost of the university; the provost should respond in writing within fifteen school days to the faculty member or group of faculty concerning any action the provost is willing to take to resolve the grievance.
b. Request for Formal Hearing
If the informal steps listed above do not resolve the grievance, the faculty member or members may file a request for a formal hearing with the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee. This request must be filed within thirty calendar days of the provost's written response to the faculty member or group of faculty members. The chair of the committee will notify the provost, the appropriate department head/ director and dean of the college where the grievance originated, of the request for a formal hearing; the chair will also set a date agreeable to the faculty member or group of faculty members by which time the person or group bringing the action must submit to the chair of the committee a signed statement fully defining the grievance along with written documentation concerning the grievance, a list of witnesses to testify at the formal hearing, and a list of any further evidence or materials intended for introduction at the hearing. All materials must be submitted in quadruplicate; the chair of the committee will distribute the copies to the provost and the appropriate dean and department head/ director and will duplicate further copies as necessary for the members of the committee.
c. Preliminary Inquiry
Within ten school days of having received complete documentation of the faculty member's or group of faculty members' grievance, the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee should convene the committee for a preliminary inquiry. The purpose of this inquiry is to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a serious, bona fide grievance may indeed exist. The chair of the committee may call any appropriate persons to this preliminary inquiry for questioning by committee members only. The faculty member or group bringing the grievance and an administration representative appointed by the provost will be allowed to be present during the questioning; each will be given an opportunity to make a final statement after the questioning of all persons is completed. If, at the conclusion of preliminary inquiry, the committee unanimously agrees that there are insufficient grounds to believe that a serious, bona fide grievance may exist, the request for a formal hearing will be denied and the grounds for this denial reported to the faculty member or group of faculty members, the dean of the appropriate college, the provost and the president of RIT. If one or more members of the committee believe that a serious, bona fide grievance may exist, the chair of the committee will arrange steps for a formal hearing.
d. Formal Hearing
In cases where the preliminary inquiry leads to a formal hearing, the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee will notify the administration's designated representative that all materials (including a list of witnesses and any other non-written evidence) which the administration wishes to introduce at the formal hearing must be submitted to the chair of the committee within fifteen school days of the conclusion of the preliminary hearing; duplicate copies of materials will be distributed to the aggrieved faculty member or group and the members of the committee. The chair of the committee will also set a date for beginning the formal hearing no sooner than five, but no later than ten, school days after all materials have been distributed.
(1) The chair of the committee will notify all persons concerned, including requested witnesses, at the earliest practical date, of the time and place of the formal hearing; the chair shall also arrange for a tape recording of the hearing. In the event that a hearing- impaired person is presenting the grievance, or is a witness or counsel for the aggrieved faculty member or members, that person should be allowed to arrange for the presence of an interpreter. In the event that a hearing-impaired person is involved on any other basis, the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee will arrange for the presence of a certified interpreter who is qualified to do reverse interpreting.
(2) At the beginning of the hearing, the chair will state for the official record that the purpose of the Faculty Grievance Committee is to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of grievances and to submit its findings and recommendations to the president of RIT. The chair will then ask if any member of the committee wishes to be disqualified for this case, or if either the faculty member or group of faculty members bringing the grievance or the designated administration representative wishes to request that any committee member be disqualified. If any committee member fails to be voluntarily disqualified upon request, that member will be automatically disqualified if two or more other committee members concur with the request. Any disqualified member will be replaced by an appropriately ranked alternate from those selected by the Academic Senate.
(3) The chair of the committee will review the procedures to be followed at the hearing, including that all of the principals have the right to hear all evidence produced, to cross- examine all witnesses, and to have counsel present at all times to speak on their behalf, provided such counsel is a member of the RIT community and is not a professional lawyer, and to have the hearing "open" to RIT personnel within reasonable classroom space limitations, and the chair will then conduct the proceedings. Any procedural disputes arising during the hearing will be resolved by committee majority vote.
(4) At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee will deliberate in closed session. Concurrence by a majority of the committee on the findings and recommendations shall constitute the findings and recommendations of the entire committee. Minority reports may be submitted.
e. Committee Report
The committee's report, written by the chair and signed by all members, will be forwarded to the president of RIT, the provost and the faculty member or group bringing the grievance. The provost will also receive and retain the tape recording of the proceedings; this will be made available to interested parties at the discretion of the provost. Specifically, the aggrieved faculty member or faculty members will, however, be granted a copy of the tape recording upon request. Having studied the committee's report, the provost and the aggrieved faculty member or members may submit their own recommendations as well to the president, who will make the final decision. The president's decision will be stated in writing and distributed to all parties. The report of the Faculty Grievance Committee and the president's decision may be made public by the aggrieved faculty member or members or the president.
Effective Date: Approved February 14, 1968
Last revised November 18, 2004
Edited September 2010