3890 - Grievance Procedures for Exempt Employees
Last updated: April 01, 2014
PREAMBLE: This is a new section to the Handbook introduced July 2002. In April 2014 changes were made to align this policy with Board policy. For further information, contact Human Resources (208-885-3638). (ed. 9-06, 12-07, rev. 4-14)
B. Informal Resolution Process.
C. Written Complaint Process.
A-1. Purpose. The purpose of this policy is to provide clear, processes through which exempt employees may present grievances related to employment. This policy aims to assist in maintaining a productive work environment and preventing minor complaints or problems from becoming major concerns. Unresolved grievances can result in a strained working environment, low morale, absenteeism, and diminished productivity. (ed. 12-07)
A-2. Rules of the Regents of the University of Idaho. Section IIM of the Regents Policies and Procedures Manual provides the following with respect to grievances of nonclassified employees (FSH 3840 is the applicable policy related to faculty members' grievances and appeals):
IIM2. Nonclassified Employees (including Faculty Employees)
a. Internal Policies and Procedures. Each institution, agency, school, and office must establish general procedures to provide for grievances and appeals for human resource matters. Such procedures shall be forwarded to the executive director for review and maintenance on file in the Office of the State Board of Education. Internal procedures must include the following elements:
- provision for informal resolution;
- procedures for filing a formal, written complaint;
- reasonable time requirements;
- a description of the hearing body; and
- requirements for retention of records.
b. Appeal to the Board. Pursuant to Board Policy II.B.2.b., the Board delegates authority for personnel management to chief executive officers. Accordingly, human resource matters are not appealable to the Board. (rev. 4-14)
A-3. Policy Not Applicable. This policy does not apply to the following circumstances:
a. Financial Exigency. This policy does not apply under the circumstances described in FSH 3970, except as set forth therein.
b. Sexual Harassment or Illegal Discrimination. The processes in this policy should not be used when alleging sexual harassment or illegal discrimination. An employee alleging sexual harassment or discrimination based on race, color, sex, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation, or disability may file a complaint with the Director of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion. That Office investigates such complaints, and handles their resolution with appropriate regard for confidentiality. (FSH 3210, FSH 3215, FSH 3220) (ed. 9-06, 6-09)
c. Nonrenewal of term appointment. This policy does not apply to the nonrenewal of a term appointment. Section IIF of the Regents Policies and Procedures Manual states the following with respect to grievances related to nonrenewals:
Except as set forth in this paragraph, nonrenewal is not grievable within the agency, institution, school or office nor is it appealable to the Board. However, if an employee presents bona fide allegations and evidence in writing to the chief executive officer of the agency, institution, school or office that the nonrenewal of the contract of employment was the result of discrimination prohibited by applicable law, the employee is entitled to use the internal discrimination grievance procedure to test the allegation. The normal internal grievance procedure for discrimination must be used unless changed by mutual consent of the parties. The ultimate burden of proof rests with the employee. The agency, institution, school or office is required to offer evidence of its reasons for nonrenewal only if the employee has made a prima facie showing that the recommendation of nonrenewal was made for reasons prohibited by applicable law. Unless mutually agreed to by the parties in writing, the use of the discrimination grievance procedure will not delay the effective date of nonrenewal. Following the discrimination grievance procedures, if any, the decision of the agency, institution, school, or office is final.
B. Informal Resolution Process.
B-1. Employees, supervisors, upper-level managers and administrators are encouraged to resolve job-related disputes informally at the lowest management level possible within UI. Before using the written complaint process, an employee should make a reasonable attempt to meet with and resolve the matter(s) with his or her immediate supervisor. Advisors, except attorneys, are permitted at informal meetings with immediate supervisors. Employees and supervisors are strongly encouraged to use informal meetings in order to identify the precise matter(s) at issue, discuss ways to resolve them, and to resolve matters at the lowest level possible.
B-2. If an employee believes that meeting with his or her immediate supervisor would be futile, the employee is encouraged to contact Human Resources (HR) or the next higher administrator for assistance. (ed. 9-06)
B-3. The Ombuds office (FSH 3820) provides a confidential, informal mechanism to facilitate voluntary communications between individuals in dispute, to help clarify issues involved, and to suggest avenues for dispute resolution. An employee who wishes to use the services of the ombuds should do so before using the procedures discussed below. (ed. 9-06)
C. Written Complaint Process
C-1. To begin the written complaint process employees file a written complaint no later than ten (10) working days after becoming aware of any grievance, or after ending the informal process without resolution, whichever date is later. The time limit for filing shall be extended due to the employee's illness or other approved leave up to five (5) working days after returning to the job. UI may, but is not required to, accept a filing that is or appears to be filed late. Filing is made by hand delivering or mailing by first class mail, postage prepaid, to the assistant vice president for human resources or designee, University of Idaho, Moscow, Idaho 83844-4332. Filing shall be deemed received on the date of hand-delivery or postmark. (ed. 9-06)
C-2. An employee may be represented by an advisor, who may be an attorney, in the written complaint process. Two or more employees may join together to use the written complaint process. Retaliation for using the written complaint process or for participating as a witness or representative is expressly prohibited. An employee who believes that he or she is being retaliated against should review the University's retaliation policy, FSH 3810, and notify HR. (ed. 9-06)
C-3. HR will arrange for the employee to meet with representatives of the unit or college who are best able to resolve the problem through a meeting with the employee. Because the goal of this procedure is to resolve problems at the lowest level possible, this meeting may involve the immediate supervisor and any additional people who may be helpful in resolving the issue(s) as determined by HR. The department head, director, or equivalent may consult with the employee, immediate supervisor, college administration, others who participated in the written complaint process and any other resources or persons in order to determine how best to resolve the issue. (ed. 9-06)
C-4. The employee will receive a written response to the issues raised from the department head, director, or equivalent no later than five (5) working days after the meeting.
C-5. Optional Mediation Step. At any time during the written complaint process, UI and the employee may mutually agree to engage in mediation. If both UI and the employee agree to engage in mediation, the other steps and time limitations (except for the initial filing deadline) of the written complaint process will be put on hold pending mediation. UI will pay for the costs of mediation. UI and the employee must also agree upon a mediator. The mediator cannot be a current or former employee of UI. The outcome of the mediation may include, at the mediator's discretion, a written document of the resolution.
D-1. These procedures apply to appeals from the written complaint process and the dismissal for cause process described in FSH 3920. The filing of an appeal does not extend the effective date of the decision being appealed.
a. Filing of Appeal and Appearances. Appeals are filed with the assistant vice president for human resources or designee. Every appeal filed shall be written and shall state, at a minimum, the decision being appealed, the grounds for the appeal, the action requested, and the name, address, and telephone number of the employee's attorney if the employee is represented. HR shall provide a copy of the appeal to the administrator whose decision is being appealed, the Provost, Vice President, Executive Director or other similar individual in charge of the employee’s unit, and the chair of the Staff Affairs. (ed. 9-06, 6-09)
b. Time Period for Filing An Appeal. An appeal must be received or postmarked within ten (10) working days after receipt of the written notice of final decision being appealed. The notice of final decision is deemed received on the date personally delivered, or three (3) working days after deposited in the United States mail, postage prepaid.
c. Upon receiving an appeal, the chair of Staff Affairs shall appoint three current or former members of Staff Affairs to serve as the Staff Affairs Hearing Board (SAHB). The Staff Affairs chair will appoint one (1) member of the SAHB as its chair. Current or former members of the Staff Affairs who wish to be eligible to serve on the SAHB are required to participate in periodic training sessions conducted by the Office of General Counsel to ensure their understanding of due process requirements. Only those members of the Staff Affairs who attend training sessions are qualified to hear appeals. UI supervisors shall provide members of Staff Affairs paid time away from their jobs to attend these periodic training sessions and other meetings associated with handling a grievance under this policy. (ed. 9-06, 6-09)
d. Once a grievance has been filed and an SAHB has been formed, the SAHB may meet as needed to prepare for the hearing and to handle other issues that arise related to the grievance.
e. Setting of Hearing. Within ten (10) working days after receiving the appeal from HR, the chair of the SAHB shall consult with the parties and thereafter shall set a mutually agreeable date for the hearing. The chair has discretion to change the date of the hearing. The SAHB shall also set the date by which UI's response to the appeal shall be filed. (ed. 9-06)
f. Filing of Documents. Once an appeal is referred to the chair of the SAHB, all documents shall be filed directly with the chair of the SAHB during the pendency of the appeal. Copies of all documents submitted shall be provided to the staff member and the administrator who made the decision being appealed.
g. Recommendation of the SAHB. The SAHB shall issue a written recommendation to the President or his or her designee within ten (10) working days after the hearing is concluded. If the President has a conflict of interest, the recommendation shall be made to the Provost and if the Provost also has a conflict of interest the recommendation shall be made to the Vice President for Finance who shall complete the process as described below. The chair of the SAHB shall provide a copy of the recommendation to the employee, the employee's representative if any, the assistant vice president for human resources, and the administrator whose decision is being appealed. (ed. 9-15)
h. The President or his or her designee shall issue a written decision to the employee within ten (10) working days after receipt of the recommendation. If the decision is materially different from the recommendation of the SAHB, the reason(s) for the difference(s) shall be set forth in the decision. A copy of the decision shall be provided to the employee, the employee's representative if any, the SAHB, the assistant vice president for human resources, and the administrator whose decision is being appealed. The decision of the President may not be appealed to the regents, see Regents Policy and Procedures Manual section IIM2. (rev. 4-14)
D-2. Other Procedures.
a. Hearings, generally, are held in Moscow. Employees who use the appeals process whose work locations are not in Moscow may request the chair of the SAHB to arrange for a video or telephone conference assisted hearing for the convenience of the employee appealing or, when feasible, to move the hearing to the location where the employee works.
b. Scope of SAHB’s Authority. The SAHB has no authority to declare a statute or regulation unconstitutional or to interpret a statute or regulation. In all appeals, the SAHB shall determine whether the employee has proven the matter at issue by a preponderance of the evidence.
c. Closed Hearing. Every hearing shall be closed and only those participating may attend, unless the parties agree otherwise in writing. A party may be represented by a person of his or her choice. The representative may be an attorney.
d. UI shall provide the employee with all records relied on in making the decision being appealed.
e. The chair of the SAHB, in consultation with the parties and except as provided in this policy, shall have the authority to set rules to govern the conduct of the appeal process and hearing. The hearing itself shall be conducted in an informal manner. The chair of the SAHB, with or without objection, may exclude evidence that is irrelevant, unduly repetitious, or protected by a privilege recognized in the courts of Idaho. All other evidence may be admitted if it is of a type commonly relied upon by prudent persons in the conduct of their affairs.
f. Settlement negotiations are confidential and shall not be disclosed, unless all participants in the negotiation agree to the contrary in writing. Facts disclosed, offers made, and all other aspects of settlement negotiations (including agreements reached) are not part of the file maintained by HR following a hearing. (ed. 9-06)
g. If the employee fails to appear at the hearing, the chair of the SAHB shall dismiss the employee’s appeal. Such dismissal may be rescinded only for good cause shown as determined by the chair of the SAHB.
h. The SAHB chair has responsibility for retrieving all documents used in the hearing process from all members of the SAHB and the UI. The chair shall deliver the documents used in and generated by the hearing process to HR. HR shall maintain a complete set of these documents for seven (7) years from the date of the decision of the President and thereafter shall destroy them. (ed. 9-06)
D-3. This policy shall be liberally construed to secure just, speedy and economical determination of all issues presented. The Idaho Rules of Civil Procedure and the Idaho Rules of Evidence do not apply to these proceedings.