(Note: OLPM sections on this page may be cited following the format of, for example, "PSU.V.D.12.1.1". These policies may be amended at any time, do not constitute an employment contract, and are provided here only for ease of reference and without any warranty of accuracy. See OLPM Main Menu for details.)
12. Complaint Resolution. The Complaint and Grievance Resolution procedures (see also PSU V.D.13) represent two distinct but related processes established for the purpose of resolving work-place problems and/or misunderstandings. This procedure (PSU V.D.12) pertains to complaints, and the following procedure (PSU V.D.13) pertains to grievances. Except where noted, status PSU faculty and staff may use either procedure solely and separately, or may use the complaint resolution procedure as the first step of the grievance resolution procedure.
12.1 Complaint Resolution -- General
12.1.1 Purpose. The PSU complaint resolution procedure is intended to resolve complaints and problems arising out of the interpretation and/or implementation of Board of Trustee, University System, or Plymouth State University policy, procedure and practice.
12.1.2 Definition - Complaint. A complaint is an issue of concern related to a work-place situation or working conditions.
12.1.3 Relation to Grievance Process. The complaint resolution process may serve as an informal step to the PSU grievance resolution procedure (PSU.V.D.13). Complaints related to evaluations of work performance, and final classification determinations cannot be grieved. Termination may be addressed only through the grievance resolution procedure.
18.104.22.168 The complaint resolution mechanism does not provide employees any rights other than the right to have a complaint heard and be considered. It does not bind PSU to any particular outcome or course of action.
22.214.171.124 Complaints may be brought to Personnel at any time. In order to continue complaints into the grievance resolution procedure, established time lines must be followed. If the complaint is against Personnel, the Director of Personnel will make a determination of the appropriate source of appeal. The complainant may have an advocate (must be a status PSU employee who is not an attorney).
126.96.36.199 Confidentiality shall be expected of participants in the complaint resolution process. Information revealed and discussions held shall be confidential as reasonable within legal requirements and organizational responsibilities.
188.8.131.52 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 and does not postpone any deadlines for pursuing such remedies.
184.108.40.206 PSU shall not take punitive actions or retaliate against a faculty or staff member for filing a complaint. Such retaliatory action by PSU employees shall be subject to appropriate discipline.
220.127.116.11 Remedies. Remedies pursued under the complaint resolution procedure may include any remedy which conforms to the spirit of the policy.
12.1.5 Personnel function. The PSU Personnel Office shall serve as a resource for understanding, accessing and managing the complaint resolution process.
12.1.6 Record keeping. Complaint information shall be kept in a confidential file in the Personnel Office and will be accessible only to those individuals engaged in the complaint resolution process and appropriate administrators with an official need to know.
12.2 Process of Complaint Resolution
12.2.1 A status PSU faculty or staff member may register a complaint by notifying the PSU Personnel Office of the complaint and indicating a desire to pursue a solution. If the faculty or staff member wishes this complaint to meet the deadline for filing a grievance, the notification of a complaint/grievance must be in writing.
12.2.2 After considering the nature of the complaint, the PSU Personnel Office will initiate a discussion towards a resolution. Options to pursue resolution will include, but not be limited to, discussions with the supervisor, informal investigation of facts, and/or use of a third party to help mediate between the decision maker and the complainant. PSU faculty may use the Review Committee (as defined in the PSU Faculty Handbook) as the process for complaint resolution.
12.2.3 If a resolution is reached, it will be communicated in writing to all involved parties.
12.2.4 If the options, outlined in 12.2.2, selected do not result in a satisfactory resolution of the complaint, the Personnel Office may, as appropriate, require any of the following:
18.104.22.168 A report from the investigator of the facts of the case
22.214.171.124 A report from the mediator about the potential solutions
126.96.36.199 A report from the supervisor about the reasons that no settlement or resolution was reached
188.8.131.52 The Personnel Office will establish the appropriate time frame for any report or follow up on reports required.
184.108.40.206 If the complaint is not grievable or pursued as a grievance, the process ends at this point.
12.2.5 If the complaint also qualifies as a grievance under the definition in 13.1.2, a PSU faculty or staff member may file a written grievance within the deadlines established in Section 220.127.116.11. The Personnel Office will make a determination of the point at which the complaint process has ended. If the complaint continues as a grievance, the grievance will normally continue at Step One. By mutual agreement of the college and the grievant, the grievance may begin at Step Two.
13. Grievance Resolution. The Complaint and Grievance Resolution procedures (see also PSU V.D.12) represent two distinct but related processes established for the purpose of resolving work-place problems and/or misunderstandings. Except where noted, PSU faculty and staff may use either procedure solely and separately, or may use the complaint resolution procedure prior to Step One of the grievance resolution procedure.
13.1 Grievance Resolution -- General
13.1.1 Purpose. The PSU grievance resolution procedure is intended to provide PSU status faculty and staff members who are not otherwise covered by a Collective Bargaining Agreement a mechanism to resolve alleged violations of Trustee, University System or Plymouth State University policy.
13.1.2 Definition: Grievance. A grievance is a written statement alleging a violation of a Board of Trustees, University System or Plymouth State University policy. The grievance procedure shall not be used to review the substantive merits of an administrative judgment, evaluation, or other discretionary act or decision, except as may be necessary when a violation of a nondiscrimination policy is alleged. A grievance may be filed by any status faculty or staff member except principal administrators.
18.104.22.168 The deadline for filing a grievance shall be ten (10) calendar days 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. In cases where the complaint resolution process is used, the grievance moves to either Step One or Step Two within ten (10) calendar days of the failure of that process (the date will be determined and announced by the PSU Office of Human Resources).
22.214.171.124 The grievant may have an advocate, who may act in an advisory capacity to the grievant or, at the grievant's request, may speak on the grievant's behalf. This advocate must be a status PSU employee who is not an attorney.
126.96.36.199 Two or more employees similarly aggrieved by the same alleged violation of policy may file a joint grievance. All grievants to a particular grievance shall be identified in the written statement setting forth the grievance. A "class action" grievance shall not be permitted.
188.8.131.52 Confidentiality shall be expected for participants in the grievance resolution process. Information revealed and 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 PSU shall not take punitive actions or retaliate against a faculty or staff member for filing a grievance. Such retaliatory action by PSU employees shall be subject to appropriate discipline.
13.1.4 Remedies. The remedies available under this grievance resolution procedure shall be limited to those necessary to bring the grieved action into conformance with the policy which was violated.
13.1.5 Human Resources Function. The PSU Office of Human Resources shall serve as a resource for understanding, accessing and managing the grievance resolution procedure.
13.1.6 Record keeping. All materials used in the grievance process, including tape recordings, exhibits, minutes and affidavits, shall be held in a confidential file in the PSU Office of Human Resources and/or appropriate site as designated by the Office of Human Resources. This file shall be separate from the official personnel files.
13.2 Process of Grievance Resolution
13.2.1 The grievant files a written statement of grievance with the PSU Office of Human Resources. The statement will include the specific policy or policies alleged to be violated, a brief statement of the alleged violation, and the resolution desired.
13.2.2 The Office of Human Resources and/or the grievant shall consider the appropriateness of using the complaint resolution procedure. Faculty have the option of utilizing either this grievance resolution procedure or the grievance process as defined in PSU Faculty Handbook. Electing one process precludes using the other.
13.2.3 Step One
18.104.22.168 The PSU Office of Human Resources will arrange a conciliation meeting to take place within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of a properly filed grievance. The conciliation group will include, but not be limited to: the grievant, the grievant's advocate, a representative of the PSU Office of Human Resources, the person whose actions are being grieved (the respondent) and any other individuals appropriate to resolution of the grievance.
22.214.171.124 The grievant and respondent each have the responsibility to provide 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 PSU Office of Human Resources shall coordinate the collection of the documents. The documents shall be made available to all parties to the conciliation meeting.
188.8.131.52 The conciliation group will meet to review the grievance and fashion a mutually acceptable resolution. The meetings are intended to 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 of the resolution will be implemented by PSU. The resolution shall not be precedent setting.
220.127.116.11 If the parties are unable to reach a resolution, the grievant shall have the option of filing a written request to proceed to Step Two. This request will be made to the PSU Office of Human Resources no later than five (5) calendar days after the end of Step One. All documents submitted for Step One will be provided by the Office of Human Resources for review at Step Two.
13.2.4 Step Two. The grievant has the option to have a Step Two grievance heard by a hearing panel, which makes a recommendation to the President, or heard directly by the President, if he/she agrees. If the President is the accused, an appropriate administrator would be asked to act accordingly.
18.104.22.168 For PSU staff, a hearing panel shall consist of three (3) USNH status employees, at least one of whom must be the same occupational type as the grievant, and at least one of whom 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. For PSU faculty, the hearing panel shall be the Grievance Resolution Committee of the Faculty, as described in Section 2.17 of the PSU Faculty Handbook.
22.214.171.124 The PSU Office of Human Resources shall coordinate the selection of the panel members in agreement with all parties.
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. A pre-hearing meeting will be held to inform the parties of these procedures.
188.8.131.52 A representative of the Office of Human Resources will attend the hearings to provide procedural support to the panel.
13.2.5 The panel will determine whether a policy violation has occurred, and if so, what shall be the appropriate remedy. The panel shall not serve to provide greater wisdom on an issue as part of decision/recommendation.
184.108.40.206 If a panel was selected, the panel will make a recommendation to the President of Plymouth State University, which will include a determination of which, if any, policies have been violated, and a proposed remedy if appropriate. The decision will be by majority vote.
13.2.6 Decision of the President
220.127.116.11 If the grievance was heard directly by the President, the parties (grievant and respondent) shall be notified in writing of the decision within 10 calendar days following the hearing date.
18.104.22.168 Upon the receipt of a recommendation from the hearing panel, the President will make the final decision on the employee grievance. The President shall retain the authority to accept or reject the recommendation of the panel in whole or in part. The remedy, if any is appropriate to the decision, shall conform to PSU V.D.13.1.4. The parties (grievant and respondent) shall be notified in writing of the decision within ten (10) calendar days following the President's receipt of the recommendation from the hearing panel. The hearing panel will receive a copy of the President's written decision. Such decision shall be final.
22.214.171.124 Exception. If the President is named as a party in a grievance, the grievant may request review by the USNH Chancellor in accordance with policy USY.V.D.126.96.36.199.1.