How-To Guide

The following are some specific questions and answers related to grievance procedures:

What kinds of problems can be submitted as grievances?

How does Informal Resolution work?

How does Mediation work?

How does the Advisory Hearing work?

How does a Formal Hearing work?


 

What kinds of problems can be submitted as grievances?

Generally, all problems may be resolved through these procedures except for those relating to matters that fall under the University’s statutory requirements; matters that relate to resource allocation decisions; or issues that relate to promotion or non-reappointment. Furthermore, APs may not grieve questions relating to employee job evaluations.

Allegations of discrimination may be handled through the Grievance Resolution Procedure or may be referred to the Campus Affirmative Action Officer. Any complaint or grievance alleging sexual harassment brought under these Grievance Resolution Procedures is also reported to the Campus Affirmative Action Officer by the Ombudsperson (hereafter referred to as the Ombuds). The UIS Sexual Harassment Policy and grievance procedures may be found at: Sexual Harassment Policy

How does Informal Resolution work?

A. How does one initiate Informal Resolution?

Informal Resolution begins when a Faculty member or AP contacts the Office of the Ombudsperson (hereafter referred to as Ombuds Office), to schedule an appointment for an initial interview. At this interview, the Ombuds describes the different options available for resolving problems. If the Faculty member or AP chooses to initiate Informal Resolution, he or she must describe the problem to the Ombuds and indicate how he or she would like to see the matter resolved. The Faculty member or AP also must authorize the Ombuds to contact the other individual(s) involved. The Ombuds can then attempt to facilitate an acceptable resolution/solution by making inquiries to see if the matter can be resolved without moving on to proceedings that are more formal.

B. What kind of information does the Ombuds need to know begin the Informal Resolution Process?

If an individual opts for Informal Resolution, nothing must be in writing and no formal grievance need be filed. However, the Ombuds must know what, when, and in what sequence the action or event occurred; the results or consequences of that action or event; and how the action or event has caused a problem. In addition, the Ombuds needs to know what the Grievant wants to happen — and the minimum the Grievant will accept — to resolve the matter.

C. Are there time limits for Informal Resolution?

There are no specified time limits for the Ombuds to affect an Informal Resolution. However, the timing and extent to which the Informal Resolution effort continues is up to the Ombuds. The results are reported to the Grievant within whatever time period the Grievant and the Ombuds agree upon.

D. What are the possible outcomes of the Informal Resolution Process?

The Informal Resolution Process may result in: a) a resolution that satisfies all involved; b) an offer of possible resolution which is rejected by the Grievant; or c) refusal by the Respondent to be responsive to the Ombuds’ efforts to resolve the matter in a way acceptable to the Grievant. Both Grievant and Respondent may be asked to sign a statement reflecting the resolution of the matter; this is optional.

E. If the result is not satisfactory or acceptable, what options are left?

If the Respondent rejects an offer of possible resolution or is not responsive to the resolution efforts, the Grievant then has several options. He or she can: a) file a written grievance with the Ombuds Office in order to initiate other options under the Grievance Resolution Procedure; b) let the matter drop; or c) pursue personal options outside of the Grievance Procedure.

How does Mediation work?

In Mediation, an individual — chosen to serve as a Mediator — meets with Grievant and Respondent, together and separately, as many times as is necessary, to facilitate and obtain a voluntary, mutually achieved resolution of the problem.

A. How does one initiate the Mediation process?

The Grievant must prepare a written statement detailing the problem or grievance and file this statement with the Ombuds Office. The Ombuds may facilitate in the drafting of this statement. The statement is then sent to the Respondent for his or her reaction. The Respondent is also asked whether he or she would agree to participate in the Mediation Process. If he or she agrees, a mediator is selected and the process begins.

B. What kind of information does the Ombuds need to know begin the Mediation Process?

If all an individual opts for Mediation, the Ombuds must know what, when, and in what sequence the action or event occurred; the results or consequences of that action or event; and how the action or event has caused a problem. In addition, the Ombuds needs to know what the Grievant wants to happen — and the minimum the Grievant will accept — to resolve the matter.

C. What is the general time frame of Mediation?

The grievant must submit a written statement of the problem to the Ombuds Office within 60 calendar days of the event that precipitated the problem or from the point at which it was known or should have been known that a problem existed. The Respondent has 10 days from receipt of a copy of the grievance from the Ombuds Office to agree to or decline Mediation. If an agreement to mediate is reached, the Ombuds has 10 days in which to provide a list of potential Mediators to the Grievant and Respondent. The Grievant and Respondent then have 10 days from receipt of this list to select a Mediator. If a Mediator is not selected within 10 days, the Ombuds can appoint a Mediator. The procedure anticipates that once begun, the Mediation itself shall be resolved within 15 days from the date on which it began. If it is not resolved within this time, an administrative determination is made that an impasse has been reached, and the Mediation procedure is considered ended without settlement resolution. All time limits are flexible and may be extended or waived by mutual agreement of the parties.

In short, the Mediation process itself should be initiated within about a month or a little less from the time of filing of the initial grievance. If it takes the full fifteen days allotted to come to resolution, the whole process should take no more than 55 days from the filing of the grievance with the Ombuds Office.

D. Who are the Mediators, where do they come from and how are they chosen?

Mediators are drawn from a pool of active or retired Faculty members or APs who have been trained as Mediators in this process. To serve as Mediator in a particular Mediation procedure, the Faculty member or AP: a) must meet the qualification requirements set forth in the procedures themselves; b) must be chosen and agreed upon by the parties to the dispute; and c) must not otherwise be involved in the specific grievance at issue.

E. What is the Mediation Process?

A Mediator usually initially meets with both parties present so he or she can be fully informed — in the parties own words — about the nature of the dispute and the concerns of the individuals involved. Subsequent meetings may be with one party or with both parties, which ever is most appropriate. The mediator may ask to see pertinent materials and/or places (if locale is pertinent to the problem). A mediator may proffer suggestions to ascertain if a proposed solution could resolve the problem or make the situation more problematic. When the Mediator believes a resolution is achievable, he or she usually brings the parties together to present the offer of settlement that Mediation has disclosed should be acceptable to resolve the matter. If the offered settlement is accepted, the Mediator writes up the settlement in the form of separate agreements or promises of action to be signed by all of the parties; the Mediator signs the agreement as a witness.

F. What is the optimum outcome of Mediation?

Mediation is the least formal of the alternative dispute resolution processes and the one best situated for good future relations between the parties. Unlike all other grievance processes, including the Informal Resolution Process, Mediation encourages open communications between the parties and requires that such communications exist both initially, when the problem is raised, and at the end, when the problem is resolved. Mediation, therefore, both allows and helps people develop and maintain a workable relationship for the future.

G. If the result of Mediation is not satisfactory or acceptable, what options are left?

If the parties are unable to come to an acceptable agreement, the Grievant may: a) pursue other options set forth in the Grievance Resolution Procedures; b) let the matter drop; or c) pursue personal options outside of the Grievance Resolution Procedures.

How does the Advisory Hearing work?

The Advisory Hearing is a mixed process whereby the parties ask a Hearing Officer to listen to their respective presentations, in summary form, of the evidence and arguments they would present fully in a Formal Hearing context. The Hearing Officer then tells the parties what she or he believes the resulting decision would be if the same material had been presented in full at a Formal Hearing. This advisory opinion then can be used as the basis for a negotiated settlement or for a mediated settlement.

A. How does one initiate an Advisory Hearing?

The Grievant must prepare a written statement detailing the problem or grievance and a request for an Advisory Hearing and file this statement and request with the Ombuds Office. The Ombuds may facilitate in the drafting of this statement. The statement is then sent to the Respondent for his or her reaction. The Respondent is also asked if he or she would agree to participating in an Advisory Hearing. If he or she agrees, a Hearing Officer is selected and the process begins.

B. What kind of information does the Ombuds need to begin the Advisory Hearing Process?

If an individual opts for an Advisory Hearing, the Ombuds must know what, when, and in what sequence the action or event occurred; the results or consequences of that action or event; and how the action or event has caused a problem. In addition, the Ombuds needs to know what the Grievant wants to happen — and the minimum the Grievant will accept — to resolve the matter.

C. Who is the Hearing Officer, where does he or she come from, and how is he or she chosen?

The Hearing Officer is a person external to the University who regularly serves as an independent contractor for such purposes. Names of Hearing Officers can be found on the State of Illinois panel of arbitrators or on national panels of arbitrators. Hearing Officers are selected from these lists by the Ombuds.

D. What is the general time frame of an Advisory Hearing?

The Grievant must submit a written statement of the problem to the Ombuds Office within 60 calendar days of the event that precipitated the problem or from the point at which it was known or should have been known that a problem existed. If there was a prior proceeding conducted under this same grievance procedure, then the Grievant has 15 days from the end of the last process to initiate this one. The Respondent has 10 days from receipt of a copy of the grievance from the Ombuds Office to agree to or decline an Advisory Hearing. Assuming an agreement to use this process is reached, the Hearing Officer is then chosen and the Advisory Hearing process begins.

The hearing itself is set on a mutually agreeable date for the parties and the Hearing Officer. All time limits are flexible and may be extended or waived by mutual agreement of the parties.

E. How does the Advisory Hearing process actually work?

The Hearing Officer conducts the Advisory Hearing like a simplified trial without all the trappings, such as witnesses or elaborate documents. The presentations are usually summaries of what would be shown or presented if there was a full trial. The parties must attend, even if they have counsel or other persons there to represent them. The hearing is carried out in a quasi-judicial manner: the Hearing Officer has final authority to decide how to conduct the hearing, but shall be responsive to agreements between the parties as to what and how they want to handle a particular point or contention. No record of the hearing is made.

F. How much time does the Advisory Hearing process take?

From the time of filing of the initial grievance, the Advisory Hearing process itself should be initiated within about a month or a little less, although it sometimes takes a while for the parties to come to agreement on an acceptable time and date for the hearing. Disputes about dates and times are decided by the Hearing Officer. The hearings usually take no more than a day, although this may depend on the complexity of the matter and problems inherent in presenting it to the Hearing Officer. Within 10 days of the close of the hearing, the Hearing Officer issues an Advisory Recommendation that includes a written summary of the Hearing Officer’s findings and recommendation of how the matter should be resolved, including a possible remedy.

G. What can be expected to happen if the Advisory Hearing process is successful?

If the parties agree to accept the Advisory Recommendation, they sign a settlement agreement incorporating its recommendations. Or, the parties may use the Advisory Recommendation as the basis for further negotiations or mediation of the core issues of the dispute in an effort to achieve a mutually acceptable remedy and settlement. There is no time limit set for these further proceedings.

H. If the result is not satisfactory or acceptable, what options are left?

If the parties are unable to accept the recommendation or unable to negotiate or mediate a settlement thereafter — i.e., they have reached impasse — The Grievant may request a Formal Hearing.

How does a Formal Hearing work?

A Formal Hearing procedure involves a full evidentiary hearing run by an external Hearing Officer. The presentations are made to a Hearing Panel, which ultimately renders a decision as to the outcome of the dispute and the appropriate remedy, if any. The Hearing Officer assists the Hearing Panel in evaluating the evidence presented; makes sure the Hearing Panel’s findings and decision are reflective of the evidence presented; and ensures that its formal conclusions are written in such a way as to actually resolve the matter consistent with those findings. The Hearing Panel then sends its findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Chancellor for final review and approval.

A. What is a Hearing Panel, who can serve on it and how are its members chosen?

A Hearing Panel is a group of individuals of the same status — either APs or Faculty — as the individual requesting the Formal Hearing. The persons that make up the pool of potential Hearing Panel members are chosen from a list of acceptable individuals who meet the qualifications set forth in the grievance procedures. The Ombuds complies a list of nine names from the Hearing Panel pool and submits this list to the Grievant and Respondent. The Grievant and Respondent then alternately strike names from the list until five names remain. These 5 persons compose the Hearing Panel.

B. How does one initiate a Formal Hearing?

The Grievant must submit a written request for a Formal Hearing to the Ombuds Office: a) within 60 calendar days of the event that precipitated the problem or from the point at which it was known or should have been known that a problem existed; or b) within 15 days of reaching impasse in the Mediation process; or c) within 15 days following issuance of an Advisory Recommendation. The Respondent has 10 days from receipt of a copy of the grievance from the Ombuds Office to respond.

C. Who is the Hearing Officer, where does he or she come from, and how is he or she chosen?

The Hearing Officer is a person external to the University who regularly serves as an independent contractor for such purposes. Names of Hearing Officers can be found on the State of Illinois panel of arbitrators or on national panels of arbitrators. Hearing Officers are selected from these lists by the Ombuds.

D. How does the Formal Hearing actually work?

The Formal Hearing itself is set on a mutually agreeable date for the parties and the Hearing Officer. All time limits are flexible and may be extended or waived by mutual agreement of the parties.

At least three days prior to the Formal Hearing, each side is asked to provide to the Hearing Officer, in writing, a full statement summarizing the issues, a list of witnesses proposed, and copies of all documents they intend to present.

The Hearing Officer conducts the Formal Hearing like a simplified trial, allowing each party full and fair opportunity to present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments. The parties may have counsel or other persons there to represent them. The Formal Hearing is carried out in a quasi-judicial manner: the Hearing Officer has final authority to decide how to conduct the hearing, but shall be responsive to agreements between the parties as to what and how they want to handle a particular point or contention. If a Hearing Panel member has questions, he or she gives them to the Hearing Officer who asks them on the panel member’s behalf.

Formal Hearings are closed to the public. The Hearing Officer makes a tape recording of the proceeding.

E. How much time does the Formal Hearing take?

From the time of filing of the initial grievance, the Formal Hearing process itself should be initiated within about a month or a little less, although it sometimes takes a while for the parties to come to agreement on an acceptable time and date for the hearing. Disputes about dates and times shall be decided by the Hearing Officer. The Formal Hearing usually takes no more than a day, although this may depend on the complexity of the matter and problems inherent in presenting it to the Hearing Officer. Within 25 days of the close of the Formal Hearing, the Hearing Officer drafts a written decision based on the findings and conclusions of the Hearing Panel.

The decision includes a written summary of the Hearing Panel’s findings and a full recommendation of how the matter should be resolved, including a possible remedy. Any written dissents are included with this statement and appropriately signed as well.

The decision, findings, and recommendations are submitted to the Chancellor, with copies to the parties and to the Ombuds Office. The Chancellor must accept or reject the decision in writing within 20 days from receipt of the Hearing Panel’s written submission.

F. What can be expected to happen at the conclusion of the Formal Hearing process?

If the Chancellor agrees with the Hearing Panel’s recommendations, the result is transmitted to the parties for implementation. If the Chancellor disagrees with the Hearing Panel’s recommendations, the Chancellor’s decision is mailed to the individual.

G. If the result is not satisfactory or acceptable, what options are left?

The Formal Hearing is the last option available in the internal Grievance Resolution Process. If the Grievant disagrees, he or she has the option of using any available external to the University, including judicial process.