Drexel University Office of the Provost

Academic Policies

Drexel University
Faculty Mediation and Grievance Policy

Posted – 5 May 2008

A. Scope of the Faculty Mediation and Grievance Policy

A Grievance is a charge that a faculty member (“Grievant”) has been adversely affected in a direct, personal, and material way by a decision or action of another individual. Such a dispute may involve a faculty colleague, an administrator, or a staff member (“Respondent”).

Disputes are best resolved amicably and informally through effective communication within and between academic units, and it is expected that any Grievant shall have attempted to resolve any dispute with another individual with the assistance of the Department Head, Dean/Director, Provost, and/or Ombudsman before invoking the grievance process set forth in this Policy. Only those disputes that have not been resolved through good faith effort may be submitted to the Grievance Panel according to the policy and process described herein.

This procedure attempts to provide guidance for resolving grievances in a timely, consistent, and simple manner.

1. Jurisdiction

a. Grievant. This Faculty Mediation and Grievance Policy and process may be invoked by any active member of the Drexel University faculty (including all full time and part time faculty).

b. Grievable Matters. The procedures outlined in this document are available when there is a charge that a decision or action of another individual has adversely affected the terms and conditions of a Grievant’s employment, including academic freedom, that is illegal or manifestly unfair.

c. Non-grievable Matters.

  • i. Actions or decisions resulting from or subject to other established appeal policies of processes are not grievable. These include, but are not limited to, (a) tenure; (b) discrimination; or (c) sexual harassment complaints.

  • ii. Actions or decisions that are the result of policies or changes in policies that affect the entire faculty or academic unit are not grievable. Such disputes should be handled through the Office of the Provost.

  • iii. Broad areas of fiscal management, staffing, or organizational structure within the University or the faculty member’s academic unit are not grievable.

  • iv. Compensation disputes relating to the setting of salaries through established University processes are not grievable.

d. Standing. This Policy is intended for and limited to grievances in which the Grievant personally has been directly, materially and adversely affected by a decision or action of the Respondent.

e. Resolution of Grievance. If a grievance involves a Department Head or administrator/staff member reporting directly to that Department Head, final considerations, as described below, are made by the Dean/Director. If a grievance involves a Dean/Director or administrator/staff member reporting directly to that Dean/Director, final considerations, as described below, are made by the Provost. If a grievance involves the Provost or administrator/staff member reporting directly to the Provost, final considerations, as described below, are made by the President.

2. Confidentiality

All oral and/or written materials prepared for mediation or grievance under this Policy, and all statements and communications made as part of the processes described herein, are confidential. All involved parties and participants are obligated to hold all matters related to a mediation or grievance in confidence, to the extent permitted by law. Failure to comply may result in disciplinary action.

3. Roles and Responsibilities

The Grievant and Respondent and all other participants are expected to abide by all procedures outlined in this Policy, participate in good faith, and ensure confidentiality before, during, and after the process.

B. Drexel Faculty Grievance Panel

1. Membership. The Drexel Faculty Grievance Panel (“Grievance Panel”) shall be composed of members elected by the voting faculties of the Schools and Colleges of Drexel University. Each College/School shall be represented by a single member. Members of the Grievance Panel shall serve three-year terms. If a member’s term expires or if a member resigns, that member shall continue to serve as a member on any Grievance then pending before a Grievance Panel to which that member has been appointed. A member of the Grievance Panel may be elected for a single successive term. Elections shall be held at Spring meetings of the faculty of each College and School, and terms shall begin and end on the date the Drexel University Faculty Senate holds its May meeting.

For the first election of the members of the Grievance Panel, the terms of the members shall be adjusted by the Chair of the Senate Committee on Nominations so that one-third of the members of the Grievance Panel shall be elected in each successive year. In this interim period, a member of the Grievance Panel may be elected for a second successive term.

2. Duties. The Grievance Panel shall meet annually and within thirty days of the election provided in Section C-1. At this annual meeting, the Grievance Panel shall:

  • Elect a Chair-elect who shall succeed the Chair of the Grievance Panel (“Chair”) at the next annual meeting and fulfill all powers of the Chair in the event of absence or inability of the Chair. Initially both a Chair and Chair-elect shall be elected.

  • Adopt or modify procedures the Grievance Panel deems necessary to implement and conduct the mediation and grievance processes in an orderly and fair manner. Such procedures must be consistent with this Policy.

C. Drexel Faculty Mediation Board

1. Membership. The Drexel Faculty Mediation Board (“Mediation Board”) shall be composed of two to five faculty members selected from among the members of the Grievance Panel who are acceptable to the Provost, who have agreed to serve as mediators during their term, and who shall be specially trained in mediation. Members of the Mediation Board shall serve three-year terms. A member of the Mediation Board may be appointed for a second successive term. Once appointed to a grievance, a mediator shall continue to serve in that capacity until the mediation is ended, even if the term of the Mediator shall expire in the meantime.

2. Duties . Mediators shall perform their duties in accordance with the Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators [see: http://www.abanet.org/dispute/news/ModelStandardsofConductforMediatorsfinal05.pdf]. In particular, they shall have no interest in the dispute and no real or perceived conflict of interest with any party, but shall seek to promote the best interests of the University; and they shall use their best efforts to effectuate an amicable resolution of any grievance submitted to them

D. Grievance Submission Process

A Grievant initiates the required Mediation and Grievance Process by submitting a Grievance in writing to the Chair. The Grievance must be filed within sixty (60) calendar days after the grievant knew or should have known of the events giving rise to the Grievance. Where a pattern or practice is claimed to be illegal or unfair, the Grievance must be filed within sixty (60) calendar days after the grievant knew or should have known of events constituting such a pattern or practice.

In the formal written Grievance, the Grievant must provide (a) the basis for the grievance; (b) the Grievant’s standing to assert the grievance, i.e., how the Grievant has been directly and adversely affected; (c) all steps that have already been taken to resolve the grievance; (d) the Respondent’s involvement or decision and (e) the Grievant’s desired remedy or outcome. Issues not raised in the written grievance shall not be considered. Upon receipt, the Chair shall ask three members of the Grievance Panel (without interest or conflict in the matter) separately and confidentially to review the Grievance to determine (a) if the Grievant has satisfied all requirements for there to be jurisdiction under Section A.1 above, (b) whether the Grievant has made a good faith effort to resolve the matter, (c) whether there is an actual case or controversy currently presented, and (d) whether the grievance is specific enough and has sufficient grounds upon which to proceed. Two of the three reviewers must agree to accept the grievance. In the absence of such agreement, the Chair shall decline to accept the grievance without further review or consideration.

E. Mediation Process

1. The Chair shall ask the Grievant, and shall consider, whether the grievance is appropriate for mediation. If the grievance is deemed appropriate for mediation, the Chair shall appoint a mediator from the Mediation Board. The Mediator may not have an appointment in the College/School of the Grievant or Respondent or have any other actual or apparent conflict of interest. The Mediator does not represent either party. Any party may object to the Mediator on grounds of actual or apparent bias or conflict of interest, and shall submit such objections to the Chair in writing. The Chair shall review such objections and may replace the Mediator as appropriate. Assignments of Mediators are expected to rotate through the members of the Mediation Board.

2. The Office of the Provost, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Equality and Diversity, and/or the Office of General Counsel may be consulted by the Mediator on mediation procedures or other matters involved in the dispute, as appropriate, including maintaining confidentiality, conducting a hearing, interpretation of policies, regulations or rules, handling of documents and preparing recommendations.

3. The Mediator shall use best efforts to resolve the Grievance within thirty (30) calendar days of formal submission to the Chair. With the consent of both parties, the period for mediation may be extended for a short period of time for good cause. Upon conclusion, or at the end of this period (whichever comes first), the Mediator shall advise the Chair in writing if the matter has or has not been resolved, but may not communicate anything further about the matter except with the agreement of all parties. If a mutually-acceptable resolution is reached, the details of that resolution shall be included in the Mediator’s report to the Chair.

F. Grievance Process

1.  Grievances not appropriate for mediation, or grievances not resolved through mediation, shall be referred to a Grievance Panel for consideration.

2. The Chair shall propose three (3) members from the Grievance Panel (“Panel Subcommittee”) to consider the Grievance.  No proposed Panel Subcommittee member shall participate in any grievance in which he/she may have a conflict of interest.  Each party shall be given one opportunity to object to any proposed Panel Subcommittee member on grounds of actual or apparent bias or conflict of interest, and shall submit such objections to the Chair.  The Chair shall review such objections and may replace the challenged member(s) of the proposed Panel Subcommittee as deemed necessary. The Chair shall then officially appoint the Panel Subcommittee. 

3. The members of the Panel Subcommittee shall select a Representative of the Panel Subcommittee (“Representative”) who is responsible to convey findings to the Chair in writing.

4. The Panel Subcommittee is empowered to gather information and documents specific to the case of the Grievant, conduct interviews, hold a hearing and take such actions as are necessary to investigate the grievance to the extent that the law and University policies permit.  The Panel Subcommittee shall issue its recommendations in writing within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of its official appointment.

5. All hearings are closed to anyone other than the parties and their advisors (see Section F.6), members of the Panel Subcommittee, and any witnesses invited to testify by the Panel Subcommittee.  Hearings shall not be audio-recorded or videotaped.  A hearing is not a legal proceeding.  At the beginning of the hearing, the Representative will: 1) Introduce the members of the Panel Subcommittee; 2) Explain the hearing procedure to the parties including: a) the official record of the hearing; b) the order of presentation; and, c) the requirement of confidentiality; and, 3) Read the Grievance.

6. Each party to the grievance may have one advisor present during a hearing.  The advisor’s role is limited to advising the Grievant or Respondent.  An advisor may not participate in a hearing, question any witnesses or Grievance Panel member, or in any way interfere with the proceedings.

7. The Office of the Provost, the Office of Human Resources, the Office of Equality and Diversity, and/or the Office of General Counsel may be consulted by the Grievance Panel Subcommittee on procedures or other matters involved in the dispute, as appropriate, including maintaining confidentiality, conducting a hearing, handling of documents and preparing recommendations.

G. Findings / Remedy

1. At the conclusion of the grievance process, the Representative shall submit a formal written report to the Chair, to the parties of the grievance and the supervisor(s) of the Grievant and Respondent, including the Dean/Director, Provost and President, as applicable from Section A.1.e. This report should include a description of the investigation, a summary of the findings of the Grievance Panel, its recommendations and the basis for those recommendations.

2. The Dean/Director, Provost or President, as applicable from Section A.1.e, may adopt or reject the report and recommendations of the Panel Subcommittee, in whole or in part.  The Dean/Director, Provost, or President, as applicable, shall notify the parties to the grievance of the decision in writing within fifteen (15) business days from the date of the report of the Grievance Panel Subcommittee.  The report of the Dean/Director, Provost or President shall include an explanation of her/his decision.

3. Findings must be based upon the standard of whether the faculty member experienced a remediable injury attributable to the alleged violation of a right or privilege as listed in Section A.1.b.  The burden is on the Grievant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the faculty member has experienced such an injury

H. Appeals Process

1. The parties to a grievance have the right to appeal the final decision of the applicable Dean/Director or Provost following a completed grievance proceeding.  The appeal must be documented with specific details.  An appeal must be in writing and delivered to the Chair within ten (10) business days after issuance of the final decision as set forth in Section G.2.  If an appeal is filed, the Panel Subcommittee shall provide all evidence it obtained in its investigation and records of the Subcommittee’s proceedings to the Dean/Director, Provost or President as appropriate.

2. The Provost or President, as applicable from Section A.1.e, shall consider only the issues specified in the appeal, and shall notify all parties to the grievance of his/her decision in writing, within thirty (30) calendar days from the date the appeal was received from the Chair.

3. The appeal decision as set forth in Section H.2 is final.

I. Acceptance of Remedy by Grievant

1. If it is found that the Grievance is justified and a remedy is recommended, the Grievant shall, before receiving any such remedy, execute a written agreement recognizing the remedy to be satisfactory and waiving any claims to causes of action arising out of the grievance.

J. Documentation

The initial Grievance documents initiating mediation and grievance processes and appeals as well as final notification letters from the Chair, Provost, and/or President shall be filed in the Office of the Provost or the President, as appropriate, where they will be maintained   Upon completion of all phases of the mediation and grievance processes, any and all other documents, information, and records which have been collected or generated shall be destroyed.

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