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Grievance Policies Key Principles

Criteria for Analyzing Key Principles

The Chancellor's Grievance Procedure Task Force recommended that the following principles be reflected in campus grievance policies:

  1. Timeliness. Grievance procedures should function in a timely manner. Are there time-frames for each step in the procedure? The analysis lists the time-frames that are designated as well as the steps that do not have spec ific time-frames.
  2. Built-in Advantages. The grievance procedure should not contain any built-in advantages for either party, each participant in the process should have an equal chance of prevailing. Are both parties able to initiate a grievance as well as appeal the decision?
  3. Nature of Grievance. Each grievance procedure should reflect the nature of the grievance it handles. Does the grievance procedure contain a definition that is sufficient to explain exactly what the procedure addresses? If so, the definition is presented.
  4. Representation. Does the grievance procedure addresses the issue of representation? Does the procedure state that each participant is entitled to support at each step of the process, including support offered by an attorney?
  5. Explicitness. The elements of each grievance procedure should be explicitly stated in writing. The analysis determines and lists what issues are, and are not, explicitly addressed. Questions include:
    1. does the procedure state who the grievance is to be filed with initially?
    2. who has the administrative authority over the procedure?
    3. is a sufficient definition given to explain what the procedures address?
    4. are the time-frames listed adequate to determine when the procedure will be completed?
    5. are the specific steps adequately outlined to explain how the procedure will develop?
    6. does the procedure address what the parties can provide as evidence to support their case?
  6. Equal Rights. Does each party have the right to be heard at every step of the process? Does the grievant have the right to file a grievance and present supporting evidence? Is the respondent informed of all charges and the evidence used to evaluate those charges? Do both parties have the right to respond to each other at each step?
  7. Confidentiality. Does each grievance procedure adequately address confidentiality? If so, that provision is provided.
  8. Informal Resolution. The analysis evaluates if informal resolution is encouraged and addressed as a viable solution before formal procedures begin.
  9. Standard of Proof. The procedure should state the appropriate standard of proof by which a decision is made. This includes 'clear and convincing evidence' and the 'preponderance of evidence' standard.
  10. Appeals. Are there steps of appeal and are they available to both parties?
  11. Conflict of Interest. The grievance procedure should protect against conflict of interest by decision makers. Does the procedure specify a way to assess whether or not a conflict of interest exists, and if so, how to replace a decision maker if a conflict of interest is detected?
  12. Final Decision Point. The grievance should have a final decision point after which the University no longer provides internal procedures for addressing the grievance.
  13. Operational Changes. Grievances and grievance outcomes should be used to inform administrators of the need for operational changes.

Resources for developing grievance policies:

Resources for Grievance Policies and their Development
Procedure for the Review of the Written Departmental Grievance Policies

May 1998