Grievance Policy & Procedures
Webster University (“the University”) is committed to maintaining a campus environment where its diverse population can live and work in an atmosphere of acceptance, civility, and mutual respect for the rights, duties and sensibilities of each individual.
It is generally recognized that in any human group complaints may originate because of misunderstandings, missed communications, perceived injustices, unanswered or incorrectly answered questions or minor problems that have been neglected. Effective communication techniques are the tools by which one builds good human relations and accomplishes the objectives of the institution.
Sometimes effective two-way communication is not possible in a time of conflict. These Grievance Procedures have been developed in the hope that their accessibility and standard of fairness will encourage students, faculty and staff to utilize them as an internal forum for the resolution of such conflicts. These Procedures allow both sides of a disagreement to be fairly considered, and permit disputes to be resolved in a timely and constructive manner. Each grievance is to be treated seriously and with an awareness that grievances must ultimately be solved by people rather than structures. Internal resolution of grievances is desired. Procedures described in this Policy provide a method for that internal resolution.
Webster University supports the right of students, faculty, and staff at all of the University’s campuses, to obtain the review of actions taken that they consider unfair or as an impediment to the successful attainment of working, living, and learning at Webster University.
Members of the University community at all levels have a fundamental responsibility to resolve internal disputes by taking appropriate, prompt, and fair action. Individuals attempting to resolve disputes should seek appropriate assistance from their supervisor or manager, department head, dean, Vice President, the chair of the faculty senate, the director for human resources, the dean of students, or any other appropriate University resource.
Grievances are to be presented to the appropriate individual as indicated at each step described in this Policy and must contain information prescribed by this Policy. Only one grievance procedure may be used for the same grievable issue. A grievance submitted under the formal procedure must be in writing. To the extent possible, strict confidentiality will be maintained regarding all matters relevant to grievances on a criterion of “need to know.”
The formal grievance process may generally be activated only after an effort has been made to resolve an issue through an informal process and when discussions between the parties to the disagreement have been exhausted and left unresolved. An exception to this is a grievance related to an alleged violation of an individual’s civil rights. The desire to prevent or to anticipate or to register mere unhappiness over a particular decision or action does not, alone, justify a grievance.
Each Vice President will distribute the Grievance Policy and Procedures to all individuals in his or her area who are covered by this Policy and Procedures and will attempt to settle grievances using the Informal Procedure before a formal grievance may be filed.
The University retains the final decision in any matters pertaining to disciplinary action or termination of individuals.
The University reserves the right to restrict use of the Grievance Policy and Procedures in any circumstances where it appears the Grievance Policy and Procedures are being used to harass students, faculty members, staff members or leadership.
This Grievance Policy applies to all students, faculty members, and staff members of the University and to issues involving other employees, students, and/or third parties with contractual relationships with the University. These Grievance Procedures are not applicable to complaints that have other internal remedies in place.
Employees who voluntarily resign their employment with the University are able to exercise rights under this policy during the two weeks immediately following their resignation. Employees terminated for cause are not able to exercise rights under this Policy in order to be re-employed but otherwise have two calendar weeks immediately following termination to file a grievance.
This Policy is applicable to all grievances filed from the date of this Policy forward.
Burden of Proof: A member of the University community who files a grievance has a burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she has been wronged.
Confidentiality: Confidentiality means maintaining as confidential, to the extent possible, all matters related to a grievance on a criterion of “need to know.”
Faculty: Members of the University faculty including full-time, part-time, adjunct, and non-regular faculty when serving primarily in an instructional capacity. Also included are Deans and academic administrators who retain faculty status.
Grievance: A grievance is an allegation by an individual based on specific facts that there has been a misinterpretation, misapplication, discriminatory application, or violation of a University Policy or Procedure. The intent of a grievance process is to resolve a dispute over significant issues not minor disagreements.
Grade disputes, admissions decisions, graduation appeals and similar academic decisions are not grievable issues, unless they are complaints of a civil rights nature, including complaints related to age, sex, race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status.
The following situations may be grieved: (1) alleged violations of academic freedom; (2) unsafe or inappropriate work assignment; (3) unsafe working conditions; (4) policy application; (5) a repeated pattern of harassment or other inappropriate behavior; and (6) legally prohibited unequal treatment including but not limited to discrimination or harassment on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status. These grievance procedures may be utilized to review the process and procedures of awarding tenure/Faculty Development Leave (FDL) status, promotions, classification, salary increases, and non-reappointment. However, the Grievance Policy cannot be used to question or challenge the academic judgment or decision-making related to these actions.
Grievance Coordinator: The Grievance Coordinator is the individual to whom a formal, written grievance must be submitted. The Grievance Coordinator for students is the Dean of Students or designee. The Grievance Coordinator for faculty is the Chair of the Faculty Senate or designee. The Grievance Coordinator for staff is the Director for Human Resources or designee. The Grievance Coordinator for a specific situation will be the Grievance Coordinator for the Grievant’s constituency.
The Grievance Coordinator is responsible for helping to coordinate the expeditious and fair resolution of problems raised by University students, faculty and staff. The role of the Grievance Coordinator is to assist the parties in seeking a satisfactory resolution of the issues and not to determine who is “right” or “wrong.” To that end, the Grievance Coordinator will remain neutral throughout the proceedings and will serve primarily as a facilitator. In appropriate circumstances, the Grievance Coordinator may also coordinate efforts within various University offices to resolve disputes in a prompt, flexible, and responsive manner. The Grievance Coordinator also may be consulted during the Informal Process of trying to resolve a grievance.
If a grievance is lodged against a Grievance Coordinator then the Grievance Coordinator’s Vice President will name an alternative person to serve as the Grievance Coordinator for that specific matter.
Grievant: The Grievant is the person lodging a grievance.
Respondent: The Respondent is the person against whom a grievance is lodged.
Retaliation: Retaliation is a material adverse action against an individual, because of his or her participation in any part of a grievance proceeding. Retaliation includes but is not limited to undesirable work assignments, academic assessment, low or no salary increases, poor evaluations, involuntary termination, or denial of FDL status, tenure, reclassification or promotion.
Staff: Any full-time or part-time University employee other than faculty and temporary employees. Graduate assistants and student workers are considered staff for purposes of this Policy when serving in an administrative capacity. Also included are Vice Presidents and other non-academic administrators.
Student: One who has accepted an offer of admission to the University with a monetary deposit and is in the process of enrolling, is registered or enrolled, or who has paid tuition, fees or other University costs for credit or non-credit instructional activities at the time during which the alleged grievance occurred.
Terminated for Cause: An involuntary termination of employment which includes but is not limited to reasons such as poor performance, excessive absenteeism, violation of a University Policy or Policies, breach of contract, or illegal activity. The cause is not for reasons that may be deemed as arbitrary and capricious, but is one which a reasonable person will recognize as reason for an employee no longer occupying his or her position with the University.
Witness: An individual identified by the Grievant, Respondent or a member of the Grievance Hearing Panel who can contribute to the substance of the grievance at hand. An individual identified as a witness or potential witness cannot be forced to testify and will not be coerced, intimidated, or retaliated against for their testimony or refusal to testify.
To the extent possible, strict confidentiality will be maintained by all parties regarding all matters relevant to grievances on a criterion of “need to know” with the following provisions. In the case of all grievances, the Grievant’s and Respondent’s management will be notified. If a grievance involves civil rights, the University Affirmative Action Officer and/or Director for Human Resources will immediately be notified. Members of the Grievance Hearing Panel, as described later in this Policy, shall not discuss the Grievance outside of the Hearing Panel meetings and shall not accept side conversations with persons who are not part of the formal hearing process.
Students, faculty members, and staff members have a right to file what they believe to be a legitimate grievance and to follow an informal and formal grievance procedure without fear of retaliation. The University will not tolerate retaliation against the Grievant, Respondent(s), Witnesses, Hearing Panel Members, Grievance Coordinator or against any other individuals formally involved as parties to the grievance procedure. Any attempt to retaliate against a person for raising an issue or participating in dispute resolution under this Policy is strictly prohibited. Any person who makes such an attempt will be subject to whatever disciplinary action the University concludes is appropriate, up to and including termination.
Any member of the University community who files a grievance has the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that he or she has been wronged. If, at the conclusion of the Grievance Hearing, the Grievant fails to carry this burden, then the finding should be in the Respondent’s favor.
Time is usually one of the concerns of persons seeking to resolve differences. Sensitivity to the issue of time is also important in the successful use of the grievance Procedure. While haste is to be avoided in the discussion and resolution of problems, the danger of crippling the possibility of a meaningful resolution by delaying discussion or work on the issues involved is equally to be avoided. This Procedure addresses the crucial issue of time – establishing a time limit for each step in the procedure. An extension may be granted if necessitated by time limitations resulting from the University calendar or other special circumstances.
If an extension is desired by one or both parties involved in the resolution of a grievance the request should be made to the Grievance Coordinator. The Grievance Coordinator will consult with the appropriate Vice President(s) and the Executive Assistant to the President and will convey the decision to the involved parties.
A grievance involves the civil rights of an individual when age, sex, race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, sexual orientation or veteran status is the primary cause of the grievance. If the Grievant thinks that his or her civil rights are involved in a grievance, the Affirmative Action Officer of the University or the Director for Human Resources should be consulted prior to or at the same time of the initiation of the grievance procedure. Following that notification, grievances which involve civil rights may be submitted to the grievance process.
Under the law, persons having grievances concerning civil rights issues (discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, or veteran status) cannot be required to use internal procedures before filing a complaint with an agency external to the University. It must be noted, however, that both the administrators of the University and the external agencies recommend the use of internal processes before initiation of external resolution processes. Still, an individual has the right at any time to use procedures and agencies external to the University. Employees have access to the following federal and state agencies:
- the Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights, which investigates complaints of discrimination on the basis of age, sex , race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, or veteran status.
- the Department of Health, Education and Welfare which administers title IX of the Education Amendment of 1972 prohibiting sex discrimination in education;
- the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor which administers the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, among others;
- the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) which administers federal laws forbidding discrimination in employment because of age, sex, race, religion, color, ethnic/national origin, disability, or veteran status;
- the Missouri Commission on Human Rights which enforces state anti-discrimination laws or similar agencies in the states where the University has a campus; or
- the Court System.
Time is always an important factor to these external agencies. If an employee wishes to consult an outside agency, the employee should be aware of the time limits imposed by that agency.
The grievance must be brought to the attention of the appropriate individuals within the timelines specified in these Procedures or the grievance will not be considered. Informal discussions between the parties at all levels of the University should occur in good faith to attempt to resolve the dispute.
If the grievance is not satisfactorily resolved through informal means, the following points are important. The Grievant submits the written complaint to the appropriate Grievance Coordinator, within the timelines described in these Procedures, for consideration and further action, stating the nature of the grievance, the steps that have been taken, and the resolution expected. A Grievance Hearing Panel will be convened to determine whether the issue qualifies as a grievance as defined by this Policy and, if so, to hear the grievance and make recommendations on the action, if any, to be taken.
The Dispute Resolution Committee consists of 30 members of the University community with equal representation from the three constituencies: students, faculty, and staff. Each member of the Committee is appointed by their Grievance Coordinator, with approval of their respective constituencies (i.e., Faculty Senate, Webster Staff Alliance Executive Board, or Student Government Association Board), to serve a two-year term except that during the initial year of implementation of this Policy appointments will be made with staggered 1 and 2-year terms. Because of scheduling issues, students may be appointed for a one year term. Vice Presidents and Grievance Coordinators may not be appointed to serve on the Dispute Resolution Committee. Members of the Dispute Resolution Committee will receive annual training in the dispute resolution process and the University’s Policies and Procedures regarding the same.
Grievance Hearing Panels will be made up of members of the Dispute Resolution Committee.
The Grievance Hearing Panel is comprised of five members of the Dispute Resolution Committee. If a grievance involves members of two constituencies the Grievance Hearing Panel will have representation from both constituencies. Students may only serve on a Grievance Hearing Panel if one of the involved parties is a student or a student worker. Many members of the University have dual constituency status such as a staff member enrolled in academic coursework as a student and student employees. For purposes of this Policy the constituency in which the Grievant is affected will be recognized.
The Grievance Hearing Panel will review documentation related to the grievance, and take testimony from the Grievant, Respondent, and witnesses presented by both parties. Based on the evidence presented, the Panel will reach a determination with respect to the issue(s) presented. The Grievance Hearing Panel’s determination and recommendations, based on a simple majority vote, will be forwarded to the appropriate Grievance Coordinator who will transmit them to the appropriate Vice President(s) of the University and the Executive Assistant to the President.
The decision of the Vice President(s) is final at the institutional level.
Because of the complexities associated with the University’s network of extended campus locations, the process for grievances involving individuals outside of the St. Louis Campus locations may be conducted by telephone, teleconferencing, or by engaging a single third party neutral to hear the Grievance. The Campus Director shall consult with the appropriate Grievance Coordinator to develop a process that is appropriate for the particular local campus environment. Use of a neutral must be agreed upon by the involved parties. The neutral’s recommendations may not subsequently be grieved. The neutral’s recommendations will be forwarded to the Grievance Coordinator who will transmit them to the appropriate Vice President(s) and the Executive Assistant to the President.
Most issues and concerns can be resolved by open communications and through an informal process. Individuals are encouraged to achieve by informal means what they regard as a fair and reasonable resolution of their complaint. Before filing a formal written grievance, the Grievant must first make a good faith effort to confer with the party against whom he or she has a grievance in an effort to resolve the matter informally. This informal grievance procedure is described in steps one through three below.
In instances where the Grievant feels uncomfortable speaking to the Respondent, an immediate supervisor, department head, or dean, or has any reservations about initiating the initial contact within the Grievant’s department, school, or work unit, the Grievant should contact the appropriate Grievance Coordinator. If the grievance is against the Grievance Coordinator then the Grievance Coordinator’s Vice President should be contacted and he or she will appoint another individual to serve as a Grievance Coordinator for that matter. The Grievance Coordinator will discuss the matter with the Grievant, become familiar with the complaint, and then advise the Grievant as to what options are available for resolving the problem.
The Grievance Coordinator may ask the Grievant to meet with the Grievant’s immediate or second level supervisor, the Vice President of the Grievant’s organization, or the dean of the Grievant’s school or college in order to give those individuals an opportunity to resolve the matter. The Grievance Coordinator may meet with the parties together or separately to discuss the problem and may involve other persons in these discussions as appropriate. The Grievance Coordinator may serve as a resource or a facilitator during the informal process.
Step One: Initial Discussion
Before filing a formal written grievance, the Grievant must first make a good faith effort to meet and confer with the party against whom he or she has a grievance. The Grievant should normally initiate this informal process within twenty (20) working days of the most recent incident or action leading to the grievance. This meeting should represent an effort to achieve by informal means what the Grievant regards as fair and reasonable resolution to the complaint.
The Grievant, either personally or through his or her Grievance Coordinator, has the obligation to adequately and fully inform the Respondent of the problem and what would be considered a satisfactory solution. The Respondent, in turn, has the obligation to consider the matter seriously and to answer issues as promptly as possible, yet not with undeliberated haste. Both parties have the obligation to act in good faith.
If the issue is not resolved, then the Grievant should proceed to Step Two of the informal process.
Step Two: Meeting with Supervisor
If the Grievance is not resolved in Step One then the Grievant should contact his or her immediate supervisor or Grievance Coordinator to discuss the grievance. The Grievant must clearly inform the supervisor or other member of management that he or she is pursuing a grievance under this Policy. This step should normally be undertaken within five working days of meeting with the Respondent. If the Grievance involves the supervisor then the Grievant should contact the next level of supervision. The department head, dean, Vice President, and/or the appropriate Grievance Coordinator may also be consulted during this step. A meeting to discuss the Grievance should normally occur within five working days of the Grievant’s notification of the grievance to his or her supervisor, manager, or Grievance Coordinator.
If the Grievance is resolved in this meeting then the Grievant’s supervisor or department head should prepare a document summarizing the issue and its resolution and give a copy to the involved parties. If the Grievance is not resolved, then the Grievant is encouraged to use Step Three of the Informal Procedure.
Step Three: Mediation
If the matter has not been resolved to the Grievant’s satisfaction in Step Two of the Informal Process then the Grievant should contact the appropriate Grievance Coordinator to request a Mediation Meeting with the Grievance Coordinator and the Respondent’s Vice President. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss the grievance and, if possible, reach a solution that is acceptable to all parties. The Grievance Coordinator will participate in this meeting and will function as the mediator to facilitate discussion and assist in resolving differences between the parties.
The Grievant’s request should generally be made within five working days of the conclusion of Step Two of this procedure. This meeting should generally occur within five working days from the date the Grievant requests the meeting.
The Grievant should be prepared to fully explain the issue, the steps that have been taken and the resolution that is desired. If resolution is reached from this meeting the Grievance Coordinator should document the meeting and the resolution, and obtain signatures of all involved parties. Copies of the signed documentation will be given to all involved parties, the Executive Assistant to the President and to the appropriate department head(s) or Vice President(s) for implementation.
If resolution is not reached, the Grievant may proceed with the Formal Procedure.
In the event the Grievance is not resolved through informal discussions and mediation then the Grievant may choose to pursue the Formal Grievance Procedure as described below. Prior to invoking the Formal Procedure the Grievant must demonstrate that he or she has exhausted all Informal actions and is still not satisfied with the resolution of the issue.
Step One: Written Request for Grievance Hearing
A written Request for a Grievance Hearing should generally be completed and submitted to the appropriate Grievance Coordinator no sooner than five and no more than ten working days of the conclusion of the Informal Procedure. The Grievance Coordinator will notify the Respondent and will give the Respondent a copy of the written grievance. The Grievant is required to prepare a written Request for Grievance Hearing to ensure that any subsequent Grievance Hearing will address the specific issues that most concern the Grievant. The guidelines set forth below are designed to ensure that the written Request for a Grievance Hearing clearly identifies those issues. The written Request, when made, must include the following information:
- the date the Written Grievance is submitted to the Grievance Coordinator;
- the Grievant’s name and job title or student identification number;
- the department or unit in which the Grievant is employed or enrolled;
- the specific nature of the problem or complaint including the name of the respondent(s), all facts related to the complaint, and all documentation related to the complaint;
- a written summary of the steps undertaken in the Informal Procedure and copies of any documents produced as a result of that informal process including documents produced by the Grievant as well as any responses from the Respondent, supervisor, department head, or others;
- a list of not more than five witnesses and their contact information for any witnesses the Grievant plans to produce at the hearing; the Grievant may submit additional names which the Hearing Panel may wish to call as witnesses on its own accord;
- the specific reason(s) the grievant disagrees with responses obtained through the Informal Procedure; and
- the Grievant’s suggestion for proper resolution of the matter.
Step Two: The Grievance Hearing Panel
Appointment of the Grievance Hearing Panel
The Grievance Coordinator, upon receipt of a Written Request for a Grievance Hearing, will immediately notify the Executive Assistant to the President that a Grievance has been filed and will give him or her a copy of the written Grievance. The Grievance Coordinator will randomly select seven members of the Dispute Resolution Committee to serve as prospective members of the Grievance Hearing Panel. This will normally be done within five working days of receipt of the written Grievance. At least three of the individuals selected will be of the same constituency as the Grievant and at least three will be of the same constituency as the Respondent. The seventh individual will be randomly selected from the remaining members of the Dispute Resolution Committee. Students may serve on a Panel only if the Grievant or Respondent is a student or a student worker.
The Grievance Coordinator will present the Grievant and Respondent with the list of the seven individuals selected from the Dispute Resolution Committee. Both the Grievant and Respondent will be given the opportunity to identify whether a conflict of interest or potential conflict of interest exists with any of the names of potential panel members. If such a conflict or perceived conflict exists, the Grievance Coordinator will strike the name(s) from the list of potential Panel members and randomly select a replacement so that there will be 7 potential Panel members. Both the Grievant and the Respondent will then be asked to strike one name from the list within two working days from receipt of the final list. They will notify the Grievance Coordinator of the names that are stricken. The remaining five individuals will be notified by the Grievance Coordinator that they have been selected to serve on a Grievance Hearing Panel.
Purpose of the Grievance Hearing Panel
The Grievance Hearing Panel has two charges. The first is to determine whether the Grievant’s complaint is a grievable issue under this Policy. If the Hearing Panel determines that the issue is grievable under this Policy then its second objective is to hear the grievance and all related testimony and render a decision on the issue.
Step Three: Initial Meeting of the Grievance Hearing Panel
The Initial Meeting of the Grievance Hearing Panel is a closed meeting, for Panel members only. This meeting will generally take place within ten working days of appointment of the Panel members. During the meeting the members will elect, by a simple majority vote, a Chair of the Panel. The Panel will then determine whether the issue(s) presented by the Grievant are grievable under this Policy, including whether the grievance is valid or is a frivolous complaint.
At least five days prior to the Initial Meeting of the Panel the Grievance Coordinator will provide members of the Panel with a copy of the Grievant’s written complaint, and any other documents that are part of the grievance. Members of the Grievance Hearing Panel may ask the Grievance Coordinator to obtain additional documents that it believes to have relevance to the meeting.
The Panel’s decision will be based on a simple majority vote of its members. If the issue is determined not to be grievable under this Policy then the Chair will prepare a report of the Panel’s findings and rationale and forward it to the appropriate Grievance Coordinator and the Executive Assistant to the President. The report will generally be issued within five working days of the Initial Meeting. The Grievance Coordinator will then forward the report to both parties and to the appropriate management personnel.
If the members determine the issue is grievable then a separate meeting will be held by the Grievance Hearing Panel for the purpose of hearing the grievance.
Appeal of the Grievance Hearing Panel Decision
If the Grievance Hearing Panel determines that the issue is not grievable under this Policy then the Grievant may appeal this decision to the University’s Vice Presidents meeting as the Council of Vice Presidents. The appeal must be made within ten working days of the date of the decision of the Grievance Hearing Panel. The Council of Vice Presidents will notify the Grievance Coordinator of its decision within ten working days of its receipt of the appeal. The Grievance Coordinator will notify the Grievant and Respondent of the decision. The decision of the Council of Vice Presidents is final.
Step Four: The Grievance Hearing
The scope of the Grievance Hearing is limited to the issue(s) identified in the Written Request for a Grievance Hearing.
The Chair of the Panel will schedule a date for the Grievance Hearing. The Grievance Hearing will generally be held within ten working days from the date the Hearing Panel issues its decision from the Initial Meeting. The Chair of the Hearing Panel will notify the Grievance Coordinator of the date of the Hearing and the Grievance Coordinator will notify all of the involved parties and witnesses. This notification will generally be made at least seven working days prior to the date of the Hearing.
The Grievant and Respondent will be asked to submit to the Grievance Coordinator a list of no more than five witnesses each to speak on their behalf during the Grievance Hearing Panel meeting. This list must be given to the Grievance Coordinator at least five working days prior to the Hearing date. Generally, only witnesses whose names appear on this list will be permitted to participate in the Hearing. If extenuating circumstances exist the Grievance Hearing Panel can elect to hear testimony from additional witnesses the Panel believes have pertinent information to provide. Members of the Grievance Hearing Panel may ask the Grievance Coordinator to obtain additional documents that it believes to have relevance to the Hearing. All documents and witness lists must be provided at least five working days prior to the date of Hearing.
Both the Grievant and Respondent may be accompanied at the hearing by a support person (e.g., student, parent, faculty member, staff member, associate); however this person may not participate in the hearing or speak on his or her behalf. Potential witnesses, other than the Grievant and Respondent(s), must remain outside of the hearing room other than when they are required to testify.
Prior to the hearing the Grievance Hearing Panel will establish an appropriate schedule for the proceedings. A typical schedule follows. Once the Hearing is begun, the Grievant will present an opening statement. The Panel may then question the Grievant. The Respondent will then present an opening statement. If there is more than one Respondent each may make an opening statement. After the opening statement of each Respondent, the Panel may question the Respondent(s).
After opening statements and questions have been completed, the Grievant may question each of the Grievant’s witnesses. Following the Grievant’s questioning, the Respondent may question each witness. The Panel may then question each witness.
After the Grievant has called all of the Grievant’s witnesses, each Respondent will have a chance to call his or her witnesses and ask questions of each witness. The Grievant may then question the Respondent’s witnesses. Following questioning by the Grievant, the Panel may question each witness.
The Panel may consider the written statement, made under oath, of a witness who cannot appear when the party seeking to use the statement has provided it to the Chair of the Panel at least five working days in advance of the Hearing date. A copy of this statement shall immediately be given to the other party. The other party will have the opportunity to respond in writing or verbally during the Grievance Hearing. If the reply is made in writing then the Chair of the Grievance Hearing Panel will distribute a copy of the reply to the opposing party and to all members of the Grievance Hearing Panel.
After each side has called all of its witnesses, the Grievant and Respondent(s) may each make a closing statement. The Chair will then briefly review the issue(s) for determination, then all parties except Panel members will be excused.
Members of the Panel will then meet, in private, to evaluate information presented. If during its deliberations the panel determines that additional information and/or witnesses should be considered it may reconvene the hearing at an appropriate time to do so. The Grievant has the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she has been wronged. The Hearing Panel’s determination will be based upon a vote of a simple majority of the Panel.
Report of the Hearing Panel
The Chair of the Grievance Hearing Panel or designee shall prepare a written report summarizing the Panel’s findings. The report shall contain the Panel’s conclusion on each issue identified in the written complaint as well as the Panel’s recommendations for corrective action, if any. The report shall be signed by members of the Panel who agree with it. Members of the Panel who disagree with the majority’s findings, conclusions or recommendations may prepare, as an addendum to the report, any contrary opinions and recommendations. This addendum to the report will be signed by members of the Panel who agree with it. The report and addenda will generally be given to the appropriate Grievance Coordinator within five working days of the conclusion of the hearing. The Grievance Coordinator will then transmit the report and any other relevant information to the Grievant’s Vice President, the Respondent’s Vice President, and the Executive Assistant to the President.
Decision of the Vice President(s)
Any Vice President of the University, as an officer of the University, is authorized by the Board of Trustees to exercise such supervision and direction as will promote the efficient and effective operation of the University. The appropriate Vice President(s) will use the report of the Grievance Hearing Panel to reach a decision that best promotes these goals. The Vice Presidents’ decision will be communicated, in writing, to all involved parties.
The Vice President(s) normally will furnish a decision to the parties within ten working days after receiving the report of the Grievance Hearing Panel. If the Vice Presidents’ review of a case requires longer than ten days, the Vice President(s) will notify the parties of the delay. The Vice Presidents’ decision will be made in writing and submitted to the Grievance Coordinator who will notify the Executive Assistant to the President, Grievant, Respondent(s), members of the Hearing Panel and appropriate members of management of the decision. The Vice Presidents’ decision following the Grievance Hearing Panel is final at the institutional level.
Finally, the University reiterates the positive nature of the grievance Procedures. These Procedures provide structures which should smooth and speed the resolution of University-related grievances and thus affirm the University’s desire to treat each student and each employee fairly. The publication of this Policy and Procedure should guarantee access to the necessary information for the internal resolution of University-related grievances at Webster University.