5.18.2 Adjudication

Revised: August 6, 2007

I. Definitions

  1. Grievance: For purposes of this procedure, a grievance is defined as one or a combination of the following: (a) when an employee of the College feels that a violation of a written College policy, procedure or established practice has taken place regarding him/her personally at the hands of another employee of the College, (b) when a policy, procedure or established practice has been perceived to have been intentionally and with malice misrepresented to an employee of the College by another employee of the College, or (c) when an inequitable or unreasonable application of a policy, procedure or established practice is felt to have been unfairly placed upon an employee of the College by another employee of the College.
  2. Employee of the College: A person employed by Sandhills Community College for full-time teaching, professional, administrative, or other services who has been approved by the Board of Trustees for continued employment to perform contractual obligations in compliance with appropriate college policy. Part-time employees are not covered by the Grievance Policy or this Procedure; however, part-time employees who feel aggrieved are strongly encouraged to seek satisfaction in the same manner as is suggested in the informal process section of this Procedure.
  3. Grievant: An employee of the College who initiates the Grievance Procedure; the person making a written and signed claim for relief or redress.
  4. Respondent: An employee of the College specifically named in a grievance accused of being the cause of the grievance.
  5. Party-in-interest: Any employee of the College who is neither the grievant nor respondent in a Grievance Procedure but who may be required to take action to resolve the grievance.
  6. Employee Grievance Committee: An ad-hoc hearing panel which shall conduct hearings under this Grievance Procedure. This Committee shall include one full-time employee of the College selected by the respondent, one full-time employee of the College selected by the grievant, and one full-time employee of the College appointed by the President or his/her designee. This appointee shall be the chair of the committee.
  7. Day: For purposes of this Procedure, the term “day” will mean a regularly scheduled working day and will not include weekends, holidays or days during which the College is not open for regular business transactions.

II. General Considerations

  1. Once a formal grievance has been initiated, no information, data, documents, materials, minutes of meetings, findings, decisions, correspondence or similar elements related to the grievance initiated by either the grievant or the respondent or a party-in-interest will be withheld from the grievant or the respondent or any party-in-interest to the Procedure without the expressed approval of the President of the College, or his/her designee.
  2. All discussions and hearings will be in private and closed unless both the grievant and the respondent request otherwise.
  3. Unless the time period is extended by mutual consent of the grievant, the respondent and the Employee Grievance Committee, Step I through Step III shall be completed within thirty (30) days. Primary responsibility for assuring compliance with this time frame will rest with the grievant who, if requested by the grievant, will be assisted in this task by the President of the College or his/her designee.
  4. The grievance process is an internal administrative procedure that does not require the application of rules of law or evidence that are a normal part of the traditional civil or criminal judicial system. It is a mechanism for resolving problems that is not couched in legal jargon and rules; individuals are challenged to be directed by a sense of fair play and prudence rather than legalistic concerns.

III. Procedure

  1. Except as otherwise stated elsewhere in College Policies or Procedures, the Grievance Procedure shall not apply to suspension, dismissal, non-renewal, reduction in force or reasonable directives and instructions from supervisors acting within the boundaries of their authority. Additionally, a reassignment without a corresponding reduction in salary shall not be subject to Grievance Procedures.
  2. All grievance proceedings shall be recorded by a stenographer or an audio-recording machine and retained in the Office of the President or his designee for so long as either the grievant or the respondent is an employee of the College. Upon request and at his own expense, the grievant, the respondent and any party-in-interest may obtain a copy of those proceedings.
  3. A formal grievance must be filed within ten (10) days after the occurrence of the action motivating the grievance or within ten (10) days after the grievant would reasonably be expected to have knowledge of that action (unless the grievance is considered by the President of the College to be a continuing matter; otherwise, the grievance will be considered to no longer be valid).

IV. Proceedings

Normally, employee grievances can be resolved through informal discussions and conferences between or among the grievant, the respondent, and the immediate administrator/supervisor and other parties-in-interest. This informal proceeding has been determined by experience to be the best and most common avenue employed for resolving personnel problems. Because of this, the grievant will be required to fully utilize, or attempt to utilize, the informal approach to resolving his/her grievance prior to submitting a formal written grievance.

In the event the informal process fails to resolve the matter, a formal grievance procedure begins when a written and signed statement is delivered in person or by campus mail to the President of the College or his/her designee citing the specific policy, procedure or practice alleged to have been violated, misinterpreted or inequitably applied. The written statement shall also contain the specific action(s) requested to be taken that will satisfy the grievant. This statement is to be written on the “Faculty and Staff Formal Grievance Form,” found on the Sandhills Community College intranet under the forms section.

Step I
A written statement is filed as stated above. This action will generate a meeting called by the President’s designee involving that designee, the grievant, the respondent and, if appropriate, the immediate supervisor(s) for the purpose of resolving the dispute. If the grievance is satisfactorily resolved at the conclusion of Step I, the matter shall be considered closed with no need for continuation at a higher level. If it is not resolved, then the process will move to Step II. Evidence of resolution or impasse shall be put in the form of a written statement prepared and signed by the President’s designee.

Step II
If the grievant is not satisfied with the disposition of the grievance at Step I, then he/she may refer the grievance to the Employee Grievance Committee. In the event that the grievant fails to file the grievance within the 10-day period set forth in the Procedure, Part C, he/she shall be deemed to have waived all rights to have the grievance heard at Step II or at any other level, and the matter will be considered closed. Once the Employee Grievance Committee is impaneled, the grievant will be granted a hearing before the Committee in which he/she shall have the right to present evidence relevant to the grievance. The Employee Grievance Committee’s role is not to create peace between the grievant and the respondent; rather, the Committee’s task is to rule on the legitimacy of the grievant’s claim(s). Its responsibility is to judge and rule rather than mediate.

The recommendation(s) of the Employee Grievance Committee shall be arrived at as fairly and impartially as possible based solely on the relevant information presented to the Committee. The Committee’s decision(s) shall be based on findings of fact and consistent conclusions resulting from those facts. The Committee will address each written charge made by the grievant. In addition, any unprofessional or untoward behavior on the part of either the grievant or respondent with regard to each other which occurs during the grievance process should be documented and presented to the Employee Grievance Committee for consideration in the grievance matter. But it is not required to respond to new charges that might arise during the process. The findings and conclusions reported by the Employee Grievance Committee will be presented as one report with one recommendation even though the decision of the Committee is split 2-to-1. (It is this 2-to-1 possibility that dictated the makeup of the Committee as a group of three with the most objective member of the panel likely being the third member who was selected by neither the grievant nor the respondent; this is also the reason for identifying this third party to serve as the panel’s chair).

Step III
If the decision of the Employee Grievance Committee is not acceptable to either the grievant or the respondent, the matter may be appealed to the President of the College. The President will be furnished all information considered by the Employee Grievance Committee along with an audio-recording or transcript of the Committee’s hearings and a written copy of the Committee’s recommendation(s). Following his review of these materials, the President will meet with the grievant and the respondent to attempt to resolve the grievance. The President’s findings of fact and his/her conclusions will be put in writing, along with his recommendation(s), and given to the grievant and the respondent. The President’s latitude shall be as broad as necessary to attempt to bring about a mutually satisfactory resolution to the dispute.

Step IV
With respect to grievances other than grievances involving sexual harassment and/or racial discrimination, the Presidents findings and recommendations are final. In instances involving either sexual harassment and/or racial discrimination, if the findings and recommendation(s) of the President are unsatisfactory to either the grievant or the respondent, the grievance may be appealed to the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for a decision. If the grievance is appealed to the Board, then all correspondence, records, documents, copies of testimony and the like that have been generated by the process will be delivered to the Chairman of the Board for review. The Chairman will appoint an ad hoc committee of the Board to address the grievance appeal. The ad hoc committee will normally conduct a hearing in closed session. The Board’s findings and conclusions will be reduced to writing and given to the President of the College who, in turn, will transmit those findings and conclusions to the grievant, the respondent and all parties-in-interest.

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