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Faculty Senate Guidelines for a Grievance Hearing before the Executive Committee

Faculty Senate Guidelines for a Grievance Hearing before the Executive Committee

Academic and Student Affairs
Date enacted or revised: 
August 8, 2011
  1. The Panel

    1. Panel Composition

      The panel will consist of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Senate. One member will chair the panel. Panels hearing complaints relating to denial of tenure, promotion, or reappointment usually consists of tenured faculty members. The panel usually is composed of 3 to 5 members. In accordance with Article I, Section C, panel members may recues themselves if they believe a conflict of interest exists.

    2. Responsibilities of the Panel Chair

      The panel chair is responsible for the following:

      1. Contacting the other panel members to schedule meetings of the panel.
      2. Notifying the other panel members and the parties of the time, date, and location of the hearing.*
      3. Contacting the other panel members and the parties if there is a request for a postponement of the hearing.*
      4. Ensuring that the hearing is conducted in an orderly, fair, and equitable fashion pursuant to the provisions of a procedure decided on by policy or panel and that all decisions are made by the panel as a whole.
      5. Ensuring that exhibits are received into evidence and are marked to be made a part of the record.
      6. Ensuring that the panel decision is made within 5-10 work days of the conclusion of the hearing, or within 5-10 days of the receipt of a transcript if a transcript is prepared and requested by the panel.
      7. Reporting the panel decision in writing to the appropriate vice president and the President, with a notice to the Vice President of Special Services and Equity.
      8. Transmitting the record of the hearing to the Vice President of Special Services and Equity.

      * Responsibility for notifying parties may be delegated to other appropriate individuals.

    3. Impartiality of Panel Members

      1. An impartial panel is a vital element of the grievance procedure. It is expected that each panel member will keep personal bias out of the decision-making process and will arrive at a decision based solely on the evidence presented during the course of the hearing. When serving as a panel member, one is not an advocate or representative; the role is that of an impartial decision maker.
      2. To ensure an impartial panel, no one may serve as a panel member who has had prior involvement in the investigation of the complaint; has direct or indirect supervisory responsibility for either party; or is in a direct or indirect subordinate position to either party.
  2. Persons Present at the Panel Hearing

    1. Parties

      The parties to the grievance are the complainant(s) and the accused or respondents or university representatives relevant to the complaint. Each party may be present during the entire hearing except during the panel's deliberations. If there are multiple complainants, each complainant will present testimony individually to the panel and will not hear the testimony of the others.

    2. Party Representatives

      Each party may have an advocate. Unless contrary to the laws or rules of the State of Louisiana or the University of Louisiana System, this advocate may be an attorney, or a faculty or staff member from the university. The advocate for a complainant may NOT speak, examine, cross-examine, or present evidence on behalf of the party. The University's legal counsel attends hearings regarding discrimination or grievances by faculty or non-faculty. If they desire representation, the parties involved shall notify the Panel not less than 24 hours before the hearing the identity of their representative.

    3. Hearing

      Procedures for the Hearing are governed by the panel conducting the Hearing.

    4. Observers

      Unless required by the State of Louisiana or the University of Louisiana System, the Hearing is closed to all observers. The panel has the authority to determine whether any exceptions to this rule should be made. A party with a hearing impairment that is sufficiently serious to qualify as a disability under applicable law may have an interpreter present throughout the hearing.

  3. Pre-Hearing Grievance Information

    Prior to the Hearing, the Chair of the Panel will send each panel member a copy of the Grievance Procedure for Faculty and Staff and a copy of this document. The panel chair will request the names of the parties' representatives and will forward copies of these documents to them, along with persons who will attend the Hearing. Correspondence dealing with procedural issues between the representatives of the parties must be copied to the panel chair.

  4. Recording the Hearing

    If the Hearing is recorded, the panel will be responsible for the actual recording. A recorded tape(s) or transcript is usually kept as a part of the grievance record. Defects in the tape or transcript of the hearing not caused by the negligence of the members of the panel or University personnel will form no basis for appeal of the panel's decision.

  5. The Panel Hearing

    1. Clarifying the Issue(s)

      1. Prior to convening the hearing, it is recommended that the panel meet in closed session to review the issue(s) and the hearing format. The parties' representatives may be included at the discretion of the panel.
      2. Once the hearing is convened, each panel member will identify himself or herself for the record. Then the panel chair will read a prepared statement for the record that identifies the issue(s) to be decided by the panel and explains the proposed format. The statement may read like this: "We are here today to hear the allegations against (name and identification of the accused or representative). This proceeding has been convened pursuant to the University's Grievance Policy for Faculty and Staff (name of policy or procedure). We will first (hearing format and order of presentation)...."
      3. Each party will identify himself or herself for the record prior to giving testimony.
    2. Evidence

      1. Evidence consists of any testimony given by the parties, documents received by the panel prior to the hearing, and any exhibits received during the hearing.
      2. Panel hearings are not full court proceedings and technical rules of evidence do not apply. Panels, however, should admit all relevant and material evidence. Relevant evidence is that which has a direct or significant relation to or which tends to prove or disprove the matter at issue. Material evidence is that which is of logical consequence or importance to the issue. All evidence must be submitted to the panel by a time and date of their choosing, but no less than twenty-four hours before the hearing is to be held. New evidence shall NOT be introduced at the hearing itself unless exceptional circumstances exist. It is up to the Panel itself whether to admit or reject such evidence put forward at any point after the set date for admission of documentation.
    3. Party Testimonies

      1. The panel may determine the order of the testimonies. Each party must be given the opportunity to present his or her testimony. In addition, the panel members may question the persons providing information to clarify testimony. However, a party cannot be forced to respond to a question.
      2. The panel will decide whether testimony is made under oath. If testimony is not under oath, it is advised that the panel chair inform each witness prior to testifying that:
        1. the witness is expected to tell the truth;
        2. all information presented at the hearing is confidential and should not be disclosed outside of the hearing; and
        3. acts of reprisal for utilization of the grievance procedure or for participation in the grievance is prohibited and may result in disciplinary action.
    4. Exhibits

      An exhibit is any document, object, or group of objects identified as such in the hearing. Exhibits offered by either party may be received as evidence by the panel, or may be rejected if they are not relevant or material to the issue at hand. Exhibits received as evidence are marked as either the complainant's exhibit or the accused's exhibit. If either party has more than one exhibit, the exhibits should be numbered in ascending order (e.g., "Accused's or Representative Exhibit No. 1", etc.). The exhibit is then made a part of the panel hearing record. The panel chair, or his designee, is responsible for the maintenance of exhibits.

    5. Examination and Cross-Examination by Panel

      1. This is an administrative hearing, not a court of law. All questioning is conducted by the members of the panel. The parties are NOT allowed to cross-examine each other.
      2. The examination of testimony occurs when the panel members asks the party who produced the testimony questions about facts and matters pertaining to the issue(s) raised in the testimony or grievance.
      3. Cross-examination of testimony occurs at the discretion of the panel members. Cross-examination occurs when a panel member asks questions of the other party to clarify the accuracy of prior testimony or prior evidence presented to the panel or which further develops prior testimony. For the purposes of this hearing, "cross-examination" does NOT mean the questioning of one party to the dispute by the other.
    6. Hearing Format

      1. Unless otherwise decided by the panel, the complaining party presents his or her evidence first. Accordingly, the hearing format should ordinarily be as follows:
        1. Complainant's opening statement, if desired. This shall be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes
        2. Representative's opening statement, if desired. This shall be limited to a maximum of 20 minutes;
        3. examination by panel members of the complainant;
        4. examination of the university representative(s) by the panel;
        5. university representative's closing statement, if desired. This shall be limited to 10 minutes;
        6. complainant's closing statement, if desired. This shall be limited to 10 minutes.
      2. The panel may vary this order of presentation but must give each party full and equal opportunity to present all relevant and material evidence. Further questioning may be conducted by the panel.
      3. Opening statements merely summarize what the parties hope to prove and should not be treated as evidence. Closing statements summarize what evidence has been presented and emphasize its significance or lack thereof.
      4. The panel may establish a reasonable time limit for the length of opening and closing statements.
      5. Following closing statements, the panel chair will declare the hearing closed.
      6. At any point, at their discretion, the panel may choose to adjourn into closed session for consultation or discussion, including with the University of Louisiana System legal counsel.
  6. Panel Deliberations and Decision

    1. Panel Deliberations

      1. After the hearing, the panel will deliberate on the evidence presented and arrive at a decision. No individual other than the panel members may be present during the panel's deliberations, unless the panel seeks guidance on procedural matters.
      2. The panel may decide to deliberate at the conclusion of the hearing or may decide to reconvene at a later date. If the panel does decide to reconvene, the panel may meet in person or by conference telephone call. However, all panel members must participate in the deliberation.
      3. If the panel, during its deliberations, requires additional information or clarification from either party, both parties must be present to hear the exchange regarding this information, unless a party elects not to be present.
      4. Cases must be decided on the evidence presented and not on compliance matters occurring before or during the hearing.
    2. Panel Decision

      1. The standard for the panel's decision will be based on a preponderance of the evidence.
      2. The panel's decision must be made within 5-10 work days after the conclusion of the hearing, or within 5 work days of the receipt of a transcript if a transcript is prepared and requested by the panel.
      3. The decision will be made by a majority vote of the panel voting as a whole.
      4. The panel chair will report the decision in writing to the complainant, appropriate vice president, and to the President, with a notice to the Vice President of Special Services and Equity.
    3. Grievance Record

      After the panel has reached its decision, the panel chair will transmit the grievance record, including the recording and/or transcript of the hearing and all exhibits, to the Vice President of Special Services and Equity.