Definitions & FAQs

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DEFINITIONS

Grievance:  A written complaint filed by a faculty or academic staff member against an administrator of the University alleging a violation of University, college, department, school, or unit policy or established practice.

Faculty member:  A person with a paid University appointment at the rank of professor, associate professor, assistant professor, or instructor, including those with fixed term and visiting status. 

Academic Staff:  A person with a paid University appointment at the rank of academic specialist, lecturer, assistant instructor, research associate, or librarian, including those in a continuing appointment system and those with fixed term and visiting status.

Administrator: A person appointed as the head of an administrative unit, school director, department chair, dean, or separately reporting director.  The President, the General Counsel and members of the General Counsel’s staff, and the FGO are not subject to grievance under this Policy.

Policy:  A written statement of principles and procedures that govern the actions of faculty, academic staff, and administrators, including written rules, bylaws, procedures, or standards. 

Practice:  Actions taken by the administrator within an administrative or academic unit based on customs or standards in that unit that are usually unwritten but of long-standing duration, and for whose existence the grievant can offer evidence.

Violation:  A breach, misinterpretation, or misapplication of existing policy or established practice.

 

 

FAQs

 

Q: Do I need to speak with the Faculty Grievance Official or contact the office prior to filing a grievance? 

A: No, there is no requirement to contact the office prior to filing a formal grievance.  However speaking with the Faculty Grievance Official can often help frame the issues of concern and resolve the issues informally, which is a point of emphasis in the Faculty Greivance Policy.

 

Q: I have a concern but do not wish to file a grievance.  Can I meet with the Faculty Grievance Official for an informal conversation?

A:  Yes, faculty and academic staff are highly encouraged to discuss their concerns regardless of their intent to file a formal grievance.  The goal of the Faculty Grievance Office is to help resolve concerns informally before any formal action becomes necessary.  An initial meeting can help understand concerns and shape options for addressing them. 

 

Q: I'm a faculty or academic staff member and am having a conflict with another person in my unit who is not an administrator.  May I come to your office to discuss my concerns?

A:  Yes, our office would be happy to discuss issues regarding department climate even though such issues do not fall under the purview of the Faculty Grievance Policy.  We have worked with several units around campus to develop strategies for addressing a wide variety of concerns that may arise. 

 

Q: I’m an administrator who has some concerns or needs some help regarding climate issues within my department / unit.  Can I use your office as a resource?

A: Yes, we encourage any faculty members or administrators to contact our office with any concerns since we have experience assisting units regarding climate issues.  Our assistance can be very brief and informal, or it can be more extensive and involve many members of a unit in a more formal program.  Our goal is to help improve climate using strategies that make the most sense for a specific unit. 

 

Q: Who may file a grievance?

A: A faculty or academic staff member may file a formal grievance against an administrator that alleges a violation of University, college, department, school, or unit policy or established practice.

 

Q:  What is grievable?

A:  Grievances must allege a violation of University, college, department, school, or unit policy or established practice. 

 

Q:  What do I need to do in order to initiate a grievance?

A:  A faculty /academic staff member who feels aggrieved may discuss his/her complaint in a confidential conference with the Faculty Grievance Official (“FGO”). The FGO shall inform the faculty /academic staff member if the potential grievance falls under the jurisdiction of another University policy rather than this Policy.

 

Q:  If I decide to file a grievance, what information does it need to contain?

A: 1) the specific policy or established practice that has allegedly been violated  2)  the date of the alleged violation and the date on which the grievant became aware of the alleged violation  3)  the facts relevant to the alleged violation  4)  the person(s) against whom the grievance is filed  5)  the redress sought

 

Q:  Is there a deadline for filing a grievance?

A:  A grievant must submit a written, signed statement to the FGO within 28 days of the date that the grievant knew or should have known of the alleged violation.

 

Q:  How is a grievance adjudicated? 

A:  If a grievance is found to meet the jurisdictional requirements (enumerated in Section III.D of the Faculty Grievance Policy) and cannot be resolved informally, a  five member panel of faculty and academic staff will hear the parties arguments and make a non-binding recommendation to the Provost.  The Provost shall decide the grievance after reviewing the panel's findings and recommendations.

 

Q:  Can the Provost's decision be appealed?

A:  Yes, the Provost's decision can be appealed if it is alleged that there has been a prejudicial violation of procedures established for the conduct of the initial hearing, and/or the decision of the Provost is not consistent with the preponderance of the evidence presented at the initial hearing.  A five member appeals panel will make a recommendation to the President based upon the written appeal, any written response to the appeal, the record of the hearing, the Provost's decision and the arguments of the parties presented to the appeals panel.  The President shall then decide the grievance.

 

If you have other questions please call or email the Faculty Grievance Office.
(517) 353-8884
fgo@msu.edu