Scope: All current RIT tenure-track (tenured and pre-tenured), non-tenure-track faculty and visiting faculty.
RIT’s core values establish the expectation that faculty and administrators will work together in a respectful and collegial manner. To accomplish this, it is essential that the university maintain a climate that fosters prompt and equitable resolution of concerns and grievances.
This policy provides a number of alternatives for resolving concerns and grievances, including an orderly and formal internal process for a faculty member or a group of faculty members who allege existing policies or procedures have been violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted; or a practice has been unfairly administered, and as a result one’s professional or academic standing has been adversely affected. Examples of grievable issues include instances when an appropriate policy, procedure, or practice has not been followed related to such things as breach of confidentiality, academic standards, academic freedom, and plan of work. The Faculty Grievance Committee will not substitute its substantive judgment on such matters for those of regularly constituted authorities or committees. The tenure (E05.0), promotion (E06.0) and dismissal for cause (E23.0 and E23.1) policies include provisions as to when a grievance may be filed.
The grievance procedure offers a confidential process for faculty to resolve concerns in a non-legal environment. To that end, neither the grievant(s) nor the administration shall be represented by legal counsel during the grievance proceedings. Unless there is a related lawsuit pending or questions related to policy interpretation, the university shall not consult with legal counsel until the Committee has submitted its final recommendation.
II. Advice and Guidance
Faculty have the opportunity to seek confidential guidance on the Grievance Process outlined here prior to invoking the formal grievance process. All discussions and information exchange shall remain confidential.
In most cases, a faculty member who desires information about and assistance regarding university-related disputes, conflicts or circumstances that may lead to a formal grievance are encouraged to first consult with their own colleagues or dean or unit head. However, there may be instances when a faculty member needs advice from a knowledgeable source outside their college. University resources available in these instances include Faculty Advisors (see section II. A.), the RIT Ombuds Office, the Provost, Office of Faculty Affairs and Human Resources.
Faculty Advisors on Policy
The Faculty Advisors provide a voluntary mechanism solely to assist with informal advice and guidance on university policies and procedures and potentially grievable circumstances.
Three Faculty Advisors shall be elected by the Faculty Senate. Advisors shall be members of the Faculty Senate, knowledgeable of university policies and procedures, and shall receive annual training. At least one advisor shall be a principal lecturer.
Consultation with Advisors is voluntary. A faculty member may consult with any Faculty Advisor for advice and consultation; a meeting of all advisors is not required.
Consultation with Faculty Advisor(s) does not preclude the faculty member from initiating the preliminary and formal grievance process outlined below.
Any discussion or communication exchange between a faculty member and a Faculty Advisor shall be confidential.
Grievant(s) may choose to work with a representative to assist in addressing a possible grievable issue.
The representative shall be an individual from within the RIT community.
Representatives may attend all meetings between the grievant(s) and the immediate supervisor or other parties who are subject to the grievance, unit head and dean as an observer.
If a formal grievance hearing takes place, the representative shall have access to any pertinent documents and may participate in the formal hearing.
The representative shall not conduct an independent investigation, including expecting individuals involved in confidential deliberations to breach such confidences.
The representative shall not participate in mediation between the parties if mediation is initiated.
Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process through which trained neutral third persons (mediators) assist people to express their concerns and develop solutions to a dispute in a safe and structured environment.
Mediation resources will be posted on the Provost’s website.
Mediators can be RIT employees or external to RIT.
The individual who serves as mediator shall be acceptable to all parties.
Because mediation is voluntary, both parties must agree to participate in order for mediation to occur.
Faculty members and supervisors are encouraged to consider using mediation to resolve disputes or to help address a conflict between a faculty member and another member of the RIT community.
Role of mediators: Mediators do not make judgments, determine facts, or decide the outcome; instead, they facilitate discussion between the participants, who identify the solutions best suited to their situation. Mediators do not engage in evaluation of decisions.
No agreement is made unless and until it is acceptable to the participants.
Requesting mediation: Mediation is available at any time following attempts to resolve the issue(s) informally without the filing of a grievance. Additionally, mediation may be requested by any party for a potential grievable issue as defined in section XIII (C).
If, after the initiation of a formal grievance, both parties agree to participate in mediation, the grievance is placed on hold until the mediation process is complete.
If the parties come to a resolution of the dispute through mediation, the parties are responsible to each other for ensuring that the provisions of the agreement are followed.
In the event that the parties are not able to reach a mutual resolution to the dispute through mediation, the grievant(s) may request that the grievance be reactivated and the grievant(s) may seek a formal hearing and bypass Step One (Section V.).
If the parties in a mediation process reach a mutual resolution, failure to abide by the terms of the mutual resolution may be grievable and the grievant(s) may immediately seek a formal hearing before the Faculty Grievance Committee.
IV. Initiation of Formal Grievance Process
All grievance matters shall be initiated by the grievant(s) by contacting the Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate and the Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee via a RIT, secure e-mail dedicated for this purpose on the grievance form provided in the appendix to this policy, as soon as possible after the grievant(s) discovers a perceived grievable issue(s). In no case shall the request be filed later than ninety (90) business days, as defined in Section XIII.A., from the time the grievant(s) discovers such issues(s).
V. Formal Grievance Process – Step One
A grievance may involve the grievant(s)’ immediate supervisor or others who are alleged to have violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted policy. This phase is defined as efforts to resolve an issue(s) prior to the involvement of the Faculty Grievance Committee. The purpose of this step is to allow an opportunity to mutually resolve concerns. The vice chair of Faculty Senate and the Chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee are available to clarify policy and respond to questions about this step and is the first point of contact to begin the formal grievance process. The process in Step One is as follows.
Within seven (7) business days of the notification by the grievant(s), the vice chair of Faculty Senate shall notify the grievant(s)’ immediate supervisor and any other involved party who is subject to the grievance via RIT e-mail that the Step One process has commenced and include a description of the perceived grievable issue(s). If the immediate supervisor is subject to the grievance, the immediate supervisor’s immediate supervisor shall be notified.
The grievant(s) and their immediate supervisor and any other involved parties shall meet and attempt to reach an informal resolution as soon as reasonably possible but no later than seven (7) business days from the commencement of the resolution process. The immediate supervisor shall document the discussions and the results and provide the grievant(s) with a copy via RIT e-mail of this documentation within ten (10) business days after the conclusion of this meeting.
If the grievant(s), immediate supervisor and other involved parties reach an acceptable resolution which requires any related action(s), the action(s) shall be included in the documentation provided to the grievant(s) by the immediate supervisor as noted above.
If an acceptable resolution is not reached, the grievant(s) may submit an e-mail request to the dean of the college for an informal discussion of the grievance within seven (7) business days of receipt of the immediate supervisor’s documentation. The request shall include the perceived grievable issue and a copy of the immediate supervisor’s documentation.
Within five (5) business days of receipt of the request, the dean shall establish a meeting date. This meeting date shall occur as soon as reasonably possible, but no later than ten (10) business days from the request. The dean shall document the discussions and attempts to resolve the issue and provide the grievant(s) with a copy of this documentation within fifteen (15) business days after the conclusion of this meeting.
If the grievant(s) and the dean reach an acceptable resolution which requires any related action(s), the action(s) shall be included in the documentation provided to the grievant(s) and the unit chair by the dean as noted above.
If the grievant(s) and the dean do not reach an acceptable resolution, the grievant(s) may submit the faculty grievance form to the Provost within twenty (20) business days following the receipt of the dean's documentation of outcomes in Step One.
Within twenty (20) business days from receipt of the form, the Provost shall provide a final response to the form in writing to the grievant(s) concerning any action the Provost is willing to take to resolve the grievance.
If the grievant(s) and the Provost reach an acceptable resolution within the twenty (20) days which requires any related action(s), the action(s) shall be included in the Provost’s final response to the form provided to the grievant(s), the dean, and the unit head.
VI. Formal Grievance Process – Step Two: Request for Formal Hearing
If the steps listed in (Section V) do not resolve the grievance, the grievant(s) may file a written request for a formal hearing with the chair of the Faculty Grievance Committee (committee description in Section X). This request shall be filed within ten (10) business days after the Provost's final response to the form is communicated to the grievant. This request initiates a preliminary process (see Section VII). This written request shall be an electronic attachment of each of the following items:
The grievance form submitted to the Provost
The Provost’s response to the grievance form.
A signed statement responding to the Provost’s decision that addresses points made in the Provost’s response along with any available documentation supporting the grievant(s) response. If the Provost’s decision included an offer to resolve the grievance informally, the statement shall include an explanation as to why the offer was not accepted.
Within seven (7) business days of the request for a hearing, the Committee chair shall notify the Provost, the appropriate unit head, and the dean of the college where the grievance originated of the request for a formal hearing; and distribute a set of copies of all submitted documents (See Section VI.A.) to the Provost, the appropriate dean, unit head, and members of the Committee.
Within ten (10) business days after the distribution of all documentation, the Committee shall complete the preliminary process as described below.
VII. Step Three - Preliminary Process
The chair of the Committee shall convene the Committee for a preliminary process. The purpose of this process is to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a grievance may exist. The chair of the Committee may call any persons who are directly related to or can provide clarification about the grievance to this preliminary process. Each party interviewed will be given an opportunity to make a final statement to the Committee.
Within seven (7) business days following the concluding day of the preliminary process, the Committee chair shall send out written notification of the Committee’s decision to the grievant, the appropriate dean and unit head, other individuals who may be the subject of the grievance, the Provost, and the President.
If the Committee unanimously agrees that there are insufficient grounds to believe that a grievable issue may exist, the request for a formal hearing will be denied and the grounds for this denial shall be included in the written notification of the Committee’s decision. The committee’s decision is final and concludes the grievance process.
If one or more members of the Committee believe that a grievable issue may exist, the chair of the Committee shall arrange for a formal hearing.
VIII. Step Four - Formal Hearing
The parties may request mediation, as outlined in Section III, at any time prior to the conclusion of the formal hearing.
In cases where the preliminary process leads to a formal hearing, the grievant and those who are subject to the grievance shall have the opportunity to present documents and witnesses. The chair of the Committee shall notify all parties to provide additional materials to the chair, including:
Any additional documents must be submitted electronically to the Committee chair within ten (10) business days following the day of communication of the Committee’s decision that a formal hearing will take place.
Names of individuals or documentation not included at this time cannot be introduced during the hearing. In extraordinary circumstances, either party may petition the Committee to permit the introduction of additional materials. The Committee shall make a determination whether the additional materials will be allowed. The Committee shall inform both parties of such requests and the Committee’s determination.
A list of individuals who have agreed to be called provided by the grievant(s) and others who are subject to the grievance.
Relevant documentation that either the grievant(s) or those who are the subject of the grievance feel is helpful.
Documentation that is subject to confidentiality per policy, shall not be shared.
The Committee chair shall distribute electronic copies of the materials to each member of the Committee and each party within seven (7) business days following the receipt of all materials. Within this same five-day time period, the Committee chair shall set a date to begin the formal hearing. The date for the first day of the hearing shall be set for no sooner than seven (7) business days but no later than fifteen (15) business days, following the day of distribution of all materials from the administration.
Procedures for the Formal Hearing:
The chair of the Committee shall notify all persons concerned, including requested list of individuals, at the earliest practical date, of the time and place of the formal hearing; the chair shall also arrange for a recording of the hearing. An interpreter will be provided if requested by the faculty member(s) or other participants. The Office of Human Resources shall be the repository of the recording. This recording is available only for the committee’s review during deliberations. (See Section III. C. 5 for final disposition of the recording).2. All grievance hearings shall be closed and confidential, unless the grievant(s) requests an open hearing with the submission of documents to the Committee. The Committee shall abide by the faculty member's request, unless the university can demonstrate that circumstances compel otherwise. Sufficient demonstration of circumstances shall be decided by a majority vote of the Committee.
If an open hearing is conducted, the Committee may close the hearing at any time to debate a question of order or to hear an individual presentation in private.
In the case of an open hearing, individuals to be called upon may only attend after completing their part.
Every individual that is called upon has the right to have the hearing be closed during their participation.
At the beginning of the hearing, the chair shall:
State the purpose of the Faculty Grievance Committee is to conduct a thorough and impartial review of grievances and to submit its findings and recommendations to the President of RIT.
Review the procedures to be followed at the hearing, including that each of the parties has the right to hear all evidence produced, to ask questions of all individuals called upon, and to have a representative present at all times to speak on their behalf.
Any procedural disputes arising during the hearing will be resolved by Committee majority vote.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee shall 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.
IX. The Faculty Grievance Committee Report
The Committee’s report, compiled by the chair and signed by all Committee members, shall be forwarded within fifteen (15) business days following the concluding day of the formal hearing to the President of RIT, the Provost, the appropriate dean and unit head, the grievant, and others who are subject of the grievance. The report shall include the substantiating reasons for the recommendations made by the Committee.
The President, Provost, dean, and grievant(s) shall be granted access to the recording upon request. Requests shall be made at least one (1) business day in advance. An interpreter will be provided upon request. The original recording shall remain in the Office of Human Resources at all times and copies of the recording are not permitted.
X. Recommendation to the President
Having considered the Committee's report, the grievant(s) may submit their own recommendations to the President within ten (10) business days of receipt of the Committee’s report.
The Provost may also submit recommendations to the President within ten (10) business days of receipt of the Committee’s report
The President will make the final decision within twenty (20) days of the receipt of the Committee’s report and any additional recommendations provided by the grievant(s). The President's decision will be stated in writing and distributed to all parties, including the Faculty Grievance Committee.
The Committee chair shall seal and file all records of the hearing and the report(s) of the Committee and the administration in the Office of Human Resources and in compliance with C22.0 Records Management Policy.
XI. Faculty Grievance Committee
Academic Senate shall appoint five (5) faculty members to the Committee and four (4) faculty members as alternate Committee members by April 30 of each year. The chair shall be appointed by the Academic Senate annually from members who have served at least one year on the committee. The distribution of appointments shall be three (3) professors and two (2) alternate professors and two (2) associate professors and two (2) alternate associate professors. The Committee members and alternates shall each be tenured. The Faculty Grievance Committee is responsible only to and will report directly to the Provost and President of RIT. In addition to being compliant with university training requirements, all committee members must receive training. Upon joining the committee, each member must be trained in Grievance Policies, procedures, and responsibilities of Faculty Grievance Committee members. Training in personnel policy and procedures will be delivered every year by the Center for Professional Development and all Committee members are required to stay up to date.
Committee members serve on the Committee for three-year terms and may serve no more than two consecutive terms . Appointments are staggered so that no more than one faculty member from each of the ranks of professor and 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 until the next appointment(s) is made by Academic Senate. Terms of office begin and expire at the end of the spring semester of any given year, except that service on any individual grievance already before the Committee shall continue until the case is resolved or concluded.
Before May 15 of each year, the previous year’s chair shall convene the Committee.
In this meeting, the Committee shall assess training required during the previous year and propose additions and/or deletions. Proposed changes will be discussed and voted on by committee. Additions to the Committee’s training requirements must be fulfilled by both incoming and existing members.
In the event the chair is unavailable to serve during their elected term, an alternate chair shall be selected in accordance with this policy.
The Committee is in session during the fall and spring semesters of the academic year.
Upon notification of a pending grievance case, and at the earliest possible time, members of the Committee (and alternates) shall disqualify themselves if a conflict of interest or personal bias exists related to the case under consideration.
In the event that the number of Committee members and alternates is not sufficient to form a committee due to disqualifications or exclusions, the executive committee of the Academic Senate shall select replacements from tenured faculty of the appropriate rank.
Faculty Grievance Committee Responsibilities:
The Faculty Grievance Committee will determine whether policies or procedures have been violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted; or practices unfairly administered, and as a result one’s professional or academic standing has been adversely affected. 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 recommendations to the President it believes are necessary to assure resolution of the grievance.
In the extraordinary circumstance that the Committee determines that the President may have a conflict of interest or a personal bias related to the grievance, the Committee chair shall inform the chair of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees without delay. In these cases, the chair of the executive committee of the Board of Trustees acts in place of the President for the remainder of this process.
The procedures noted in this policy shall be followed by the Committee and other parties involved. On a rare occasion if all parties agree, the time lines involved in conducting the grievance process may be adjusted.
XII. Timeline Formal Grievance Process
Day 1: The grievant(s) emails the Vice Chair of Academic Senate (AS) for a formal resolution. The grievant(s) was informed about the violation of policy fewer than 90 business days ago.
Within 7 Business Days: The AS informs the grievant(s) and their supervisor by email that the Step One process has begun.
Within 7Business Days: The grievant(s) meets with their supervisor or other involved parties to try and reach a resolution.
Within 10 Business Days after meeting, their supervisor provides the grievant(s) with documentation of the outcome of the meeting: resolved or details of the attempt to resolve the grievance. If not resolved, the grievant(s) request a meeting with the Dean within 7business days.
Within 7 Business Days, if the grievance is not resolved, the grievant(s) email the Dean requesting a meeting including the documentation from the supervisor.
Within 7 Business Days after receiving the request, the Dean sets a date with the grievant.
Within 10 Business Days, the grievant(s) meets with the Dean for informal resolution.
Within 15 Business Days after the meeting, the Dean provides the grievant(s) with a copy of the documentation of that meeting, including the resolution or attempts to resolve the grievance.
Within 20 Business Days, if the issue has not been resolved, the grievant(s) submits a grievance form to the Provost after receiving the Dean’s documentation.
Within 20 Business Days, after submitting the grievance form, the Provost responds to the grievant(s)by email about the intended action. It is resolved, or the grievant(s)request a formal hearing.
Within 10 Business Days, the grievant(s) request a formal hearing by email with Faculty Grievance Committee Chair after receiving the Provost’s written response.
Within 7 Business Days, the Chair of the Faculty Grievance committee notifies the grievant, the Provost, Dean and unit chair of the need for a formal hearing, and also distributes all documentation by email.
Within 10 Business Days, the Chair distributes the documentation and the Committee completes the preliminary process.
Within 7 Business Days after completion of the preliminary process, everyone is notified in writing by email that a grievance is or is not reasonable.
Within 10 Business Days, if the grievance is found to be reasonable, all documents related to grievance are due to the chair of the grievance committee and the formal hearing process begins.
Within 7 Business Days after receiving the documentation, the chair sends out the materials to the Provost, Dean and unit head, as well as all grievance committee members, and sets the date for the hearing.
The date is set between 7-15 days from the date of distribution of materials.
Report/Decision stage begins.
Day 1: hearing concludes.
Within 15 business days after the hearing, the report is forwarded to the President, Provost, unit head, the grievant(s) and those subject to the grievance, including the substantiating reasons for the recommendations by the committee.
Within 10 business days of receiving the Committee’s report the Provost and the grievant(s) may submit recommendations to the President.
Within 20 business days of the receipt of the report and additional recommendations, based on documentation received from the grievant(s) and from the Provost, a decision will be made in writing by the President and sent to all involved by secure email.
Business day is defined as Monday through Friday during the academic year (fall and spring semesters) and does not include official RIT holidays or summer term.
Documentation is defined as the materials submitted during the grievance process. All documents shall be submitted in electronic format unless otherwise requested by the grievant. Communication and information sent between parties (e.g., notices, requests, responses), shall be facilitated by the committee chair using secure communication on the RIT computing system (RIT computing systems that require RIT user name/password authentication) unless otherwise noted.
Grievable issue is defined as an instance when an appropriate policy or procedure has been violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted; or a practice has been unfairly administered, and as a result has adversely affected the faculty member(s)’ professional or academic standing.
Grievant(s) is defined as a currently employed faculty member or group of faculty members who bring a perceived grievable issue forward for resolution. The grievant(s) must be employed throughout the duration of the grievance.
Majority vote by the Faculty Grievance Committee is defined as at least three out of the five members of the Committee unless otherwise stated.
Non-grievable issues include:
promotion and tenure of a tenured or tenure-track Faculty;
non-reappointment (see E05.05.);
Affirmative Action and EEO complaints (see C06.0);
sexual harassment (see C27.0);
broad areas of fiscal management, staffing or structure of the Institute;
issues pertaining to differences in Faculty salaries and benefits that are based upon labor market factors such as availability of Faculty or demand for a particular academic discipline (see E04.V.D);
retirement and employee benefit issues that are subject to applicable New York State and Federal laws.
Grievance form documents and summarizes essential points, statements, or facts. The form includes:
documentation of the date the grievant(s) informed the Vice Chair of the Faculty Senate regarding a possible grievance,
the grievable issue presented to the unit head and the dean, or others involved in the grievance,
reference to the specific policy or procedure that has been violated, misapplied, or misinterpreted; or practice that has been unfairly administered and an explanation of how the grievant(s) perceived the policy or procedure to be violated, misunderstood or misinterpreted; or the practice unfairly administered,
the dates of the perceived grievable issue,
the date the grievant(s) discovered the perceived grievable issue,
the facts related to the perceived grievable issue,
a description of attempts to resolve the grievable issue including the summaries provided by the unit head and dean including proposed resolutions, and the resolution sought by the grievant.
Representative is defined as the representative for the grievant bringing the grievance forward or for other parties who are the subject of the grievance. Grievant(s) may choose to work with a representative, if so desired, to assist in addressing a possible grievable issue. The representative shall be an individual from within the RIT community, with exceptions as per this policy. Representatives may attend all meetings as observers between the grievant and the immediate supervisor or other parties who are the subject of the grievance, academic unit head and dean. If a formal grievance hearing takes place, the representative shall have access to any pertinent documents. However, in collecting information germane to a grievance, no party to the grievance shall subvert the RIT Code of Conduct or any expectation of confidentiality as outlined in policy.
Responsible Party: Faculty Senate
Effective Date: Approved February 14, 1968
Revised November 18, 2004
Edited September 2010
Revised May 7, 2015
Revisions approved by Faculty Senate January 26, 2023