PPM 3-31, Staff Employee Grievances

Responsible Office:
Human Resources

1.0   PURPOSE AND SCOPE 

This policy provides a process for staff members to resolve work-related grievances or other individuals to resolve work related grievances against staff members. Grievances against a faculty member or against a staff member who holds tenure from previous faculty employment where the issue would affect tenure status, are handled under Section 9 of the Policy and Procedures Manual.

The University is open to comments from members of the university community. Individuals, who are not students, staff, or faculty members, may direct comments to appropriate university officials who will respond in a timely and appropriate fashion. A supervisor or other appropriate official may determine whether investigation or further action is warranted on behalf of the University in response to such grievances. Individuals who are not students, staff, or faculty members do not have standing under this policy to pursue a grievance and the response of an official shall be final. 

2.0  REFERENCES 

2.1       PPM 3-2, Employee Definitions

2.2       PPM 3-14, Hourly Employment (Non-Teaching Personnel)

2.3       PPM 3-32, Discrimination Complaint

2.4       Utah Board of Higher Education Policy R831

2.5       Utah Code Ann. § 53B-3-103

2.6       Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq.

3.0   DEFINITIONS

3.1    Staff Member - A non-faculty university employee who is either executive, exempt, non-exempt, or hourly as defined in PPM 3-2.

3.2   Employment Grievance - A dispute concerning interpretation or application of personnel policies or practices, working conditions, employee-supervisor relationships, disciplinary sanctions, or termination or non-retention.

Employment matters which cannot be grieved under this policy:

●     Performance improvement plans, which are considered to be non-disciplinary.

●     Management decisions as they relate to wages and salaries, reassignment of job duties, or other decisions based on business needs.

●     Termination of employment in accordance with a reduction in force, except insofar as it is alleged that appropriate university procedures have been violated.

 If the employee alleges discrimination or harassment based on a protected classification, as described in PPM 3-32, Discrimination, Harassment, and Sexual Misconduct, the grievance should be filed and handled in accordance with that policy.

3.3   Final and Binding Decision - A last administrative decision after which the complainant cannot take the matter any further administratively.

3.4   Immediate or First-Level Supervisor - The lowest level of salaried supervision of the employee.

3.5   Human Resources (“HR”) - That office or individual charged with the administration and record maintenance of personnel matters, or such other person as may be specially designated by the institution president to administer the grievance procedures of this policy.

3.6   Personnel Relations Committee (“PRC”) - A committee established by the president or designee with membership from the staff and administration as a cross-section of the University community. Such members are to be selected for their objectivity and fairness in personnel matters. This committee should be selected in such a way so as to encourage diverse membership. Where possible, a chair is selected who has knowledge of general employment practices. At least two members of the committee will be staff members.

3.7   Retaliatory Action - To do or threaten to do any of the following in violation of Utah Code Ann.§ 67-21-3: dismiss the employee; reduce the employee’s compensation; fail to increase the employee’s compensation by an amount that the employee was promised or entitled to; or fail to promote the employee if the employee would otherwise have been promoted.

3.8   Protected Activities - Reporting in good faith 1) waste or misuse of public funds, property, or manpower; 2) a violation or suspected violation of a law, rule, or regulation adopted under state or federal law; or 3) gross mismanagement, abuse of authority, or unethical conduct, as described further in Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq.

4.0   POLICY

4.1   Informal and formal processes are available to all staff members. A staff member has the right to be accompanied by another employee or a person of their choice during the informal or formal grievance process. Individuals may not be subjected to intimidation or reprisal for assertion of a grievance.

4.2   Staff members still within the probationary period (see PPM 3-8), hourly wage employees, hourly student employees, at-will employees (including hourly wage employees or hourly student employees), and faculty or students who have grievances against staff members have access to the employment grievance policy up to and including formal Step 2 in section 5.2.1. The Step 2 solution becomes the final binding decision for such employees. Step 2 also becomes the final and binding decision for any staff employment grievance that does not result in demotion or termination.

4.3   HR serves in an advisory capacity with respect to procedural questions which may be asserted by either the complainant or the supervisor. HR monitors the employment grievance procedure and gives particular attention to the avoidance of unreasonable delays at each level of the process.

4.4   If any steps provided for in section 5.2 are impractical for any reason, HR, normally after consultation with the staff member, may prescribe an alternative process which, to the maximum practicable degree, assures to the aggrieved staff member the fair and adequate consideration of the problem or complaint. However, the right to a hearing before the PRC cannot be denied nor abridged without consent of the parties, when the staff member has a right to such hearing.

4.5  Reasonable time off with pay during scheduled working hours are provided to the employee, the employee's advisor, or any witnesses called to give information, for time spent participating in proceedings leading to resolution of the complaint. Time spent by the employee or advisor in such activities outside scheduled working hours is non-compensable. Neither time-off with pay nor compensation is provided for time or money spent in preparation for such proceedings. The PRC may use resources available to it to obtain the appearance of witnesses they deem necessary. All university employees are required to participate in such proceedings.

4.6   A proposed resolution of a complaint that involves an exception to an applicable institutional policy or regulation requires the prior approval of the supervising vice president in writing.

4.7   Time limits provided for the conduct of the grievance procedure are guidelines and may be extended by (1) mutual agreement between HR and the aggrieved employee or (2) extraordinary circumstances that make it inadvisable or impractical to meet the time limits. Time limits stated refer to normal workdays.

4.8    An individual who has a right to the employee grievance procedures may not institute more than one grievance procedure based on the same facts, circumstances, or events.

5.0   PROCEDURE

5.1   Informal Review

5.1  All individuals involved in an employment grievance should first attempt to resolve their differences through informal discussions with the immediate supervisor of the employee. A staff member may contact HR to assist in the informal resolution of the problem.

5.1.2  To facilitate the informal settlement of the grievance, both parties are encouraged to discuss with HR, on an informal basis, any employment problems or questions pertaining to personnel policy and practice.

 5.1.3  The complaint should be presented to the immediate supervisor within twenty (20) days of the event of action prompting the grievance. If the matter cannot be prudently discussed or resolved with the immediate supervisor, an exception to this procedure may be approved by HR. 

5.2   Formal Review

5.2.1   When the issue cannot be resolved through the informal review process, the grievant may pursue a formal complaint. The following steps, procedures and time limits shall be observed by the grievant and by administrative personnel in processing a formal review of the complaint, facilitated by HR.

Step 1

If a mutually satisfactory resolution has not been achieved by seven (7) days from the last informal review or discussion with the first-level supervisor, the aggrieved may refer the grievance, including the remedy sought, to the next level supervisor by putting it in writing and delivering it to HR within an additional seven (7) days. HR may provide forms for submission of formal grievances. The second-level supervisor should normally schedule a meeting in which the staff member and first level supervisor are present, and any other aggrieved party. The second-level supervisor conducts the meeting in a manner deemed beneficial in determining the facts. Parties should be allowed to suggest witnesses on their behalf if so desired. Parties should bring forth all known material facts relevant to the events or occurrences that are the subject of the grievance. A written decision by the second-level supervisor is given to the parties within seven (7) days of receipt of the written grievance or the Step 1 meeting, if one is held. Copies of the written grievance with the remedy sought, and the decision are forwarded to HR.

Step 2

If the second-level supervisor's decision resulting from Step 1 is not satisfactory to the aggrieved party, within seven (7) days of receipt of such decision, the grievant may review the case in person with HR. HR provides a written summary of the issues, and a proposed solution within seven (7) days of the in person review with the aggrieved party.

This is the final and binding decision for a grievance for a probationary staff member (see PPM 3-8), an at-will employee (including hourly wage employees or hourly student employees), for faculty and students with grievances against staff, and for any staff employment grievance regarding a disciplinary action that is less than demotion or termination. In situations of demotion or termination, or in situations where the employee is alleging a retaliatory action has been taken against them for engaging in protected activities, the solution is deemed acceptable by the staff member and their supervisor unless written notice to the contrary is given to HR in accordance with Step 3 procedures.

Step 3

For grievances permitted to move to Step 3, if the staff member or other party to the grievance is not satisfied with the solution proposed as per Step 2, the dissatisfied party responds to HR in writing within seven (7) days, setting forth the reasons why the proposed solution is not acceptable. HR refers the case to the PRC chair within three (3) days. The PRC schedules hearings on the case within a reasonable time, generally twenty (20 days) except in unusual circumstances. Each party to the complaint is notified, has the right to be accompanied at the hearings by an advisor of their choice, has the right to hear the presentations of the other parties, and the right to be heard by the PRC.  All testimony given during the hearing shall be under oath if the grievance relates to the employee’s demotion or termination.  The PRC shall have the right to dismiss the complaint if the PRC determines the complaint to be frivolous, without merit, based on issues that are beyond the boundaries established by applicable policies, if it is determined to be an abuse of the intent of due process, or if it is determined that even if everything is as alleged, the conduct would not violate standards of conduct required of staff.

A PRC member is excused from participation in any grievance deliberation where they may be influenced by personal relationships with the parties, by bias concerning the circumstances giving rise to the complaint, or by any other material influence which would reasonably inhibit the member's ability to render an unbiased judgment. The chair shall decide on any questions regarding a PRC member's participation. If the chair is alleged to be biased, etc. their participation shall be determined by the other members of the PRC.

Within twenty (20) days after the conclusion of the hearing, the PRC submits a written report of its findings and recommendations to the president. The president may refer the grievance back to the PRC if they determine that the PRC should reconsider the matter or the decision needs clarification. In such a circumstance, the PRC has an additional (7) days to submit a written report of its findings and recommendations to the president.

Step 4

The president reviews the written report and the findings and recommendations of the PRC and any reconsideration or clarification. Based upon such review and without conducting further hearings, within ten (10) days the president informs all parties of the final decision, which may include the following:

  • Ratify the findings and adopt the recommendations.
  • Reject all or parts of the findings and recommendations and make a final decision as to the disposition of the grievance. Findings and recommendations may be rejected and a different disposition made for reasons that may include:
  • The recommendations are not supported by the record, or,
  • The recommendations are based on a misinterpretation of applicable law or policy.

6.0   PROTECTION OF PUBLIC EMPLOYEE ACT 

6.1  An employee whose formal grievance alleges that a retaliatory action has been taken against the employee for engaging in protected activity must follow the grievance process outlined herein.

6.2 The PRC shall hear the matter, in accordance with Section 5.2.1, Step 3, and take action within the later of: 

6.2.1   30 days after the day on which the complaint has been filed with the PRC; or

6.2.2    a longer period of time, not to exceed 30 additional days, if the employee and the PRC mutually agree on the longer time period.

6.3  The burden of proof shall be on the University to establish by substantial evidence that the employer’s action was justified by reasons unrelated to the employee’s good faith actions under Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-3.

6.4  If the PRC finds that a retaliatory action was taken in violation of Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq., the PRC may recommend any of the options described in Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-3.7(3) or §67-21-6 to the president.

6.5 The president shall render a decision and enter an order within seven (7) days after the day on which the president receives the recommendation. The University shall communicate with employees regarding their protections and obligations as required by law, including: providing an employee with a copy of Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq.:

6.5.1  when an employee is hired;

6.5.2  upon a request by an employee; and 

6.5.3  when an employee files a grievance alleging violation of Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq.

6.6  Section 6 of this policy will be interpreted consistent with Utah Code Ann. § 67-21-1, et. seq., as amended.

 

 

Revision History

Creation Date: 8/17/77

Amended: 5/9/19; 3/22/22 (eliminated PPM 3-31a, b, c); 5/4/22