D. Employee Relations
12. Complaint and Grievance Resolution
12.1.1 The Complaint and Grievance Resolution procedures represent two distinct but related processes established for the purpose of resolving work place problems and/or misunderstandings. The policy describes the complaint procedure, and section KSC V.D.12.4 describes the grievance procedure. Except where noted, KSC faculty and staff may use either procedure solely and separately, or may use the complaint procedure as the first step of the grievance procedure.
12.2 Complaint Resolution -- General
12.2.1 Purpose. The KSC complaint procedure is intended to resolve complaints and problems arising out of the interpretation and/or implementation of the Board of Trustees, University System or Keene State College personnel policy, procedure and practice. It may serve as an informal step to the KSC grievance procedure.
12.2.2 Definition. A complaint is an issue of concern related to a workplace situation or working conditions. Complaints related to evaluations of work performance (except for policy violations), and final classification determinations are not appropriate for either the complaint procedure or the grievance procedure. Termination may be addressed only through the grievance procedure.
22.214.171.124 The complaint resolution mechanism does not provide employees any right other than the right to have a complaint heard and considered. It does not bind KSC to a particular outcome or course of action, or in any other way limit the institution's discretion to determine an appropriate outcome or course of action.
126.96.36.199 Complaints may be brought to Human Resources at any time. In order to continue complaints in the grievance procedure, complaints must be filed within 10 days of knowledge of the complaint.
188.8.131.52 The complainant may have a status KSC employee (except an attorney) act as an advocate.
184.108.40.206 Confidentiality shall be required of all participants in the complaint resolution. All information revealed and all discussions held shall be confidential as reasonable within legal requirements and organizational responsibilities.
220.127.116.11 The filing of a complaint shall not affect the rights of an employee to seek any remedy which may be available in an external forum. However, the filing of a complaint does not postpone any deadlines for pursuing such remedies.
12.2.4 Remedies. Remedies pursued under the complaint procedure may include any remedy which conforms to the spirit of the policy. The KSC Human Resources Office shall serve as a resource for understanding the process, possible remedies, and providing options for alternative resolutions and processes, if appropriate.
12.3 Complaint Resolution Process
12.3.1 A KSC staff member may register a complaint by notifying the Human Resources Office in writing of the complaint and indicating a desire to pursue a solution. If the complaint meets the criteria for a grievance, the staff member may use the complaint process as the informal step in the grievance process.
12.3.2 After considering the nature of the complaint, the Human Resources Office will investigate the facts and initiate a discussion/resolution. Options to pursue resolution will include, but not be limited to, discussions with the supervisor, investigation of facts, and/or use of a third party to help mediate between the decision maker and the complainant. A mediator will be selected based on experience or expertise in an area appropriate to the complaint. If the mediator selected by Human Resources is not acceptable to either one of the parties, an alternate will be offered. During this stage, Human Resources may, as appropriate, require any of the following:
A report from the mediator about the potential solutions
A report from the supervisor about the reasons no settlement or resolution was reached
12.3.3 The Human Resources Office will establish the appropriate time frame for any report or follow-up on reports required.
12.3.4 If a resolution is reached, it will be communicated in writing to all involved parties.
12.3.5 If there is no resolution through the complaint process, and the complaint qualifies as a grievance under the definition below (12.4.2), a staff member may file a written grievance within 10 days of the closure of the complaint process. If a complaint moves to a grievance, all documents shall be provided for review at the conciliation meeting.
12.3.6 If the complaint is not grievable or pursued as a grievance, the process ends at this point.
12.4 Grievance Resolution
12.4.1 Purpose. The KSC grievance procedure is intended to provide staff a mechanism to resolve alleged violations of Trustee, University System or Keene State College policy.
12.4.2 Definition. A grievance is an alleged violation of Trustee, University System or Keene State College policy (see 12.5.1). The use of the grievance procedure shall not be permitted for reviewing classification decisions or judgments of merit. A grievance may be filed by: (a) any status faculty or staff member except those status faculty or staff members covered by collective bargaining, or the Wheelock School handbook; or (b) principal administrators.
18.104.22.168 The deadline for filing a grievance shall be ten (10) working days from the unsuccessful attempt at complaint resolution, or from the day on which the aggrieved faculty or staff member becomes aware of the action which is alleged to violate policy. In no event may a grievance be filed more than one year after the occurrence of the alleged policy violation.
22.214.171.124 The complainant may have a status KSC employee (except an attorney) act as an advocate.
126.96.36.199 Two or more staff members similarly aggrieved by the same alleged violation of policy may file a joint grievance.
188.8.131.52 Confidentiality shall be required of all participants in the grievance resolution process. All information revealed and all discussions held shall be confidential as reasonable within legal requirements and organizational responsibilities.
184.108.40.206 The filing of a grievance shall not affect the rights of an employee to seek any remedy which may be available in an external forum and does not postpone any deadlines for pursuing such remedies.
220.127.116.11 An employee who is grieving a termination may be placed on leave of absence without pay during the time involved in the processing of a grievance. See policy USY V.D.12.3.3.
12.4.4 Remedies. Remedies available under this grievance procedure shall be limited to those necessary to bring the grieved action into conformance with the policy which was violated.
12.4.5 Coordination. The KSC Human Resources Office shall serve as a resource for understanding the process and possible remedies and providing options for alternative resolutions and processes if appropriate.
12.5 Grievance Resolution Process
12.5.1 A written statement of the grievance is filed by the grievant with the KSC Human Resources Office. The statement will include the specific policy or policies alleged to be violated, a sequence of related events and the roles of the aggrieved party and grievant. A suggested remedy may be included in the statement.
12.5.2 Step One
18.104.22.168 The KSC Human Resources Office will arrange a conciliation meeting to take place within twenty (20) working days of receipt of a filed grievance. In cases where the complaint resolution was used, the grievance moves to Step Two within twenty (20) working days of the failure of that process (as determined by the KSC Human Resources Office). The meeting will include the grievant, the grievant's advocate, a representative of the KSC Human Resources Office, the person whose actions are being grieved and any other administrators appropriate to resolution of the grievance.
22.214.171.124 The grievant and KSC each have the responsibility to provide the conciliation group with documents which can reasonably be expected to contain evidence bearing on the case. This process of "discovery" may include an effort to investigate the facts and ask questions of the participants prior to the conciliation meeting in an effort to seek out evidence relevant to the grievance.
126.96.36.199 The KSC Director of Human Resources shall coordinate the collection of the documents. The documents shall be made available to all parties involved in the conciliation meeting. The Director shall have the authority to determine what materials and records shall be available as copies to participants at Step One.
188.8.131.52 The conciliation group will meet to review the grievance and fashion a mutually acceptable resolution. The meetings shall be non-adversarial, and each party is expected to extend serious consideration to the views of the other parties.
184.108.40.206 If the parties are able to reach a consensus for the resolution of the grievance, the terms, steps and time frame of the resolution will be recorded, implemented and monitored by Human Resources. The resolution shall not be precedent setting.
220.127.116.11 If the parties are unable to reach a solution, the grievant shall have the option of filing a written request to proceed to Step Two. This request will be made to the KSC Human Resources Office no later than five (5) working days after the end of Step One. All documents submitted for Step One will be provided by the Human Resources Office for review with Step Two.
12.5.3 Step Two. The grievant shall have the option to have a Step Two grievance heard directly by the President or by a hearing panel which makes a recommendation to the President.
18.104.22.168 The hearing panel shall consist of three (3) USNH status employees, at least one of which must be the same occupation type as the grievant, and at least one which must be the same occupational type as the person whose actions are being grieved. If the person whose actions are being grieved is a principal administrator, the panel member need only have a supervisory responsibility.
22.214.171.124 Each party shall generate names of possible panel members with Human Resources having the final responsibility for panel selection. Human Resources will coordinate training for hearing panel members regarding their role in the grievance process.
126.96.36.199 After selection of the hearing panel, the panel shall determine the hearing procedures, including, but not limited to, reasonable time limitations if any, method of hearing witnesses, and overall format. The panel shall have the authority to determine what materials and records shall be available to participants.
188.8.131.52 The panel will determine whether a policy violation has occurred, and if so, what shall be the appropriate remedy. The decision will be a majority decision. Findings and remedies shall be limited to the policies involved in the grievance.
184.108.40.206 If a panel was selected, the panel will, within five (5) working days of the final hearing, make a recommendation to the President of Keene State College, which will include a determination of which, if any, policies have been violated, and a proposed remedy and suggested time frame if appropriate. The decision will be by majority vote.
12.5.4 Conclusion. The President's decision is the final on-campus step. A grievant who remains aggrieved is entitled to pursue a further review by the USNH Chancellor, according to System grievance policy, USY V.D.220.127.116.11.
12.6 Record keeping. Complaint and grievance information shall be kept in a confidential file in Human Resources and will be accessible only to those individuals engaged in the complaint process and appropriate administrators with an official need to know.
12.6.1 All materials generated in a grievance proceeding, including tape recordings, exhibits, minutes, and affidavits shall be the property of Keene State College.
12.6.2 At the conclusion of the grievance all materials shall be held in a confidential file in the KSC Human Resources Office.
12.6.3 The KSC Director of Human Resources shall make an annual report to the KSC President and the USNH Human Resources Office of the total number of grievances filed.