Please read these commonly asked questions and answers about UIS grievance policies:
- What is this thing labeled Grievance Procedure?
- What different ways of problem solving does this procedure offer?
- What is an Ombudsperson (Ombuds) and what does an Ombuds do?
- Who can use these procedures?
- What kinds of problems can be submitted as grievances?
- Who are the facilitators and decision makers?
- What good will it do to use one of these processes?
- How confidential and private are these processes?
- What kinds of records does the Ombuds Office keep and what kinds of reports does it make to the Chancellor and/or VCAA and administration?
- Is the Chancellor bound by the agreements or decisions that come out of these processes?
- What is a grievance and does it need to be in writing?
- Does the other person need to know who complained?
- What are the limits on subsequent judicial proceedings?
- How is an Ombudsperson like or not like a Counselor?
- Will these procedures resolve the conflict so that everything goes back to the way it was before?
- Does a Grievant have to go through the grievance process all alone or is a representative allowed?
Q. What is this thing labeled Grievance Procedure?
A. The Grievance Procedure is:
- a way for faculty and academic professionals (hereinafter APs) to try to resolve work related problems.
- set up to encourage problem resolution as quickly and as smoothly as possible.
- structured with all parts connected yet independent.
- supported on a procedural superstructure that uses an Ombudsperson (Ombuds), with an AP assistant as its base.
Q. What different ways of problem solving does this procedure offer?
A. The problem resolution processes available through this process are:
- Informal Resolution: The Ombuds, acting as an intermediary, makes an effort to help resolve the matter.
- Mediation: An impartial person, chosen to be the Mediator, tries to help the people with a dispute figure out a way to resolve it so that they can continue to work together in the future.
- Advisory Hearing: The person with a complaint and the person against whom the complaint has been made give summary presentations of their best cases before a jointly selected impartial Hearing Officer who, after hearing all of the arguments, issues an Advisory Recommendation that can be used as a basis for a negotiated settlement.
- Formal Hearing: The person with a complaint and the person against whom the complaint has been made present their respective cases in a semi-formal hearing-like proceeding before a decision making panel of either faculty members or AP personnel, depending on the procedure being used. The Formal Hearing is run by an external neutral Hearing Officer who can ensure that the process is evenhandedly run and that the resulting decision is based on the information produced at the hearing.
Q. What is an Ombudsperson and what does he do?
A. The Ombudsperson (Ombuds):
- talks with faculty and APs who may have work related problems they need to resolve;
- resolves problems as an intermediary;
- makes the procedures for the different processes work;
- keeps track of time limits, and responses, and records;
- keeps lists of persons available to serve as mediators and help select them;
- makes and maintains lists of Hearing Officers and handle their appointment;
- creates and maintains forms and informational materials, including the web site;
- runs the Ombuds Office as a service center to assist Faculty and APs in problem solving.
Q. Who can use these procedures?
A. All full time, tenure track or tenured faculty at UIS can use the Faculty Procedure. All Academic Professional Staff except those with hourly or less than 50% of full time appointments can use the AP Procedure.
Q. What kind of problems can be submitted as grievances?
A. The procedures may be used for any individual or group grievances against any University administrative person or department or faculty or AP.
Problems relating to students or specifically focused against a particular student need to be resolved through the student grievance procedures. There are specific topics which may not be subjects of grievances. These topics differ for APs and faculty and are spelled out in their respective grievance procedures. Generally, all matters may be resolved through these procedures except for problems relating to matters that the University is statutorily required to do or which relate to resource allocation decisions, or which relate to promotion or non- reappointment. APs may not grieve questions relating to employee job evaluations. Allegations of discrimination should be referred to the Office for Access and Equal Opportunity.
Q. Who are the facilitators and decision makers?
- Who are the Mediators, where do they come from and how are they chosen?
Mediators are either Academic Professionals or Faculty members who are not otherwise involved in the specific grievance at issue, who are chosen and agreed upon by the parties to the dispute, and who meet the qualification requirements set forth in the procedures themselves.
- Who are the Hearing Officers, where do they come from and how are they chosen?
The Hearing Officers are persons external to UIS who regularly serve as independent contractors for such purposes. They are listed on either the State of Illinois or national panels of labor arbitrators and are selected by the Ombuds.
- What is a Hearing Panel, who can serve on it and how is it chosen?
A hearing panel is a group of individuals, either Academic Professionals or Faculty, of the same status as the individual asking for the Formal Hearing or the Advisory Hearing. These persons are chosen by the Provost, Senate President and FAC Chairperson from a list of acceptable individuals who meet the qualifications set forth in the grievance procedures. They serve overlapping three year terms.
Q. What good will it do to use one of these processes?
A. Rather than stewing, fighting or suing, using these Grievant Procedures:
- Costs less time, less money and is less ulcer producing;
- Allows greater remedy possibilities;
- Keeps disputes at the lowest level of adversarial relations possible;
- Guarantees non-retaliation;
- Retains privacy of the fact of a proceeding as well as who is charged with what;
- Is much less formal than external procedures.
Q. How confidential and private are these processes?
A. These processes described here will be kept as private and confidential as possible.
The less formal, the more confidential the processes can be. People necessary to the process -- mediators, hearing officers, panel members, and so on -- have to know what is going on and what is being asked of them. Everyone involved will be asked to agree that the matter will be kept confidential and that the privacy of those involved will be maintained. This is not a guarantee that confidentiality and privacy will be maintained, but it is a promise that the Ombuds Office and others involved in the administration of the grievance procedures will make every effort to keep the fact of grievances and the grievance processing private and confidential.
Q. What kinds of records does the Ombuds Office keep and what kinds of reports does it make to the Chancellor and/or VCAA and administration?
A. No formal records will be kept of any proceedings except the Formal Hearing.
When a matter has been successfully completed -- be it resolved, withdrawn, moved to another procedure, decided and ordered, or concluded in some other way -- records will be maintained to ensure the enforcement of the final agreement or order and to keep track of the number and type of matters handled by the Ombuds Office in any given time period.
The records maintained by the Ombuds Office will not relate in any way to, nor will they be available to any persons involved with, any personnel file or proceeding except as may be directed by a court of law pursuant to formal process.
Q. Is the Chancellor bound by the agreements or decisions that come out of these processes?
According to the procedures, the Chancellor and the University are bound by any agreement or resolution of a problem that is developed and agreed upon under these procedures with the exception of the decision of the Hearing Panel under the Formal Hearing Procedure. According to the rules, the Chancellor may, for good cause, refuse to go along with the decision of the Formal Hearing panel, as long as he states his reasons in writing, within at least 20 days from the date the hearing panel issues its decision. The Chancellor also has the right to amend or do further investigation or change the remedies or even ask for further hearing proceedings if she wants.
Q. What is a grievance and does it need to be in writing?
A. The grievance is the written statement of the problem including a statement of what is the desired remedy or resolution.
In order to use any process beyond the Informal Resolution procedure, a written statement of grievance is required. This written statement becomes the basis for all subsequent grievance resolution processes under these procedures. It provides notice of the existence of a problem, the nature of that problem and the outer guidelines within which to work out a resolution to the persons being complained about. If an issue is not identified in the grievance it is hard for it to be resolved in these processes.
Q. Does the other person need to know who complained?
The price for grieving, stating that there is a problem and trying to get it resolved, is identification. Just as one must identify the problem and the persons who are contributing to it in order to start to work to make things better, the persons so labeled have a right to defend themselves and to present their point of view. This cannot be done without knowing who has made the complaint. This lack of anonymity means that people can only complain about things they know definitely and which affect them directly.
Q. What are the limits on subsequent judicial proceedings?
A. There are no limits on subsequent judicial proceedings.
Because the grievance procedures are voluntary, there is no requirement that anyone exhaust these procedures before filing a law suit in court. In fact, there is no requirement that any given procedure precede any other procedure or that starting one means that the matter cannot be withdrawn and a different procedure used instead. Any information or material gained through the course of the proceeding may be used in subsequent proceedings, if necessary. However, part of the papers filed to initiate the grievance procedure includes an agreement that the Ombuds and the neutrals who act as facilitators or hearing officers or hearing panel members are not subject to subpoena and cannot be made to divulge information in a subsequent judicial proceeding.
Q. How is an Ombudsperson like or not like a Counselor?
A. An Ombudsperson (Ombuds) is a special Human Resource person.
He is the expert on the grievance procedure processing. He runs the office and makes it all go smoothly. There are three points in the grievance process where the Ombuds acts somewhat like a counselor:
- When someone initially comes to say there is a problem, the Ombuds helps separate out the different aspects of the problem, helps identify the important issues and state them in a way that they can be addressed in the grievance procedure processes;
- When someone is in the midst of pursuing any specific grievance procedure the Ombudsman can help individuals understand what is happening, their roles and their procedural options; and
- When someone asks to try to solve the problem through Informal Resolution procedures, the Ombuds, serving as a go-between to try to come up with a workable solution, may make suggestions as to possible ways to resolve the situation and may help individuals relate to what is possible, probable or achievable at that time through that process.
The Ombuds is not available for personal, psychological, career or workplace counseling or anything resembling therapy, and cannot make official recommendations as to what is the best course of action in any given situation except as part of the Informal Resolution procedure. The Ombuds is not a final arbiter or decision maker and is not party to any resolution achieved through the grievance processes. The Ombuds is a facilitator in the best sense of the word.
Q. Will these procedures resolve the conflict so that everything is back to the way it was before?
None of the grievance procedures are designed to recreate the status quo. At best the outcome will be to have a workable procedure that everyone can agree upon to use in the future. The goal of these procedures is problem solving for the future not resolution of underlying past conflicts.
Q. Does a Grievant have to go through the grievance process all alone or is a representative allowed?
A. Any person can have a friend or representative with them at any of the meetings or sessions identified in these procedures.
However, only in the procedures that include hearings will the representative be allowed to speak and participate in the proceeding. If an individual is worried about their rights or possible retribution or retaliation, the Ombuds should be notified and steps taken to ensure that such rights are adequately protected.