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Unclassified Grievance/Complaint Policy

Authority: President
Date Enacted or Revised: Enacted March 2016; Revised April 17, 2018; October 12, 2021

Purpose 

McNeese State University is committed to providing a collegial workplace. To address complaints of any nature pertaining to working conditions, lack of a policy or procedure, allegedly unfair application of policy or procedure, and alleged deviation from a policy or procedure, the Unclassified Grievance/Complaint Policy will serve as the mechanism to redress those concerns. 

The vice president for student affairs is available for informal discussions regarding complaints and concerns and to provide unclassified employees with information concerning grievance policies and procedures. 

Procedure 

An unclassified employee shall orally present and discuss a grievance with the department head, director, or immediate supervisor. If the issue is not resolved, then the employee may pursue the complaint with the next level in the supervisory chain. If necessary, this process would continue until it reaches the vice president for student affairs. In the event the vice president for student affairs is unable to serve as the unclassified grievance officer, or if there is a conflict of interest with the vice president for student affairs, the hearing officer will be determined by Senior Staff. In this event, both parties retain the right to petition Senior Staff on their behalf.

The vice president for student affairs will attempt to resolve the matter through alternative dispute resolution (https://www.dol.gov/general/topic/labor-relations/adr). At any point during this process, if the complaint is against someone in the supervisory chain, the unclassified employee may proceed to the next supervisory level. It must be emphasized each unclassified employee should feel secure in pursuing the complaint without fear or concerns about coercion or retaliation.

If the discussions do not yield results, the unclassified employee may file a written Grievance Form, which can be obtained from the Office of Student Affairs or Office of Human Resources and Student Employment. In this form, the complaining employee must state the specific problem, the specific evidence in support of it, and the specific redress requested to resolve it. He or she must date and sign the form.

Once committed to writing, the content of the grievance cannot be altered or expanded. The original grievance form is submitted to the vice president for student affairs. When appropriate, the vice president for student affairs will send a copy via email, USPS mail, or personal delivery to the appropriate vice president, other direct supervisor(s), and the individual(s) against whom the complaint is filed.

Each party should file a written response to the complaint/grievance and submit it to the vice president for student affairs within five business days of receipt. After the grievance form and responses have been filed, the vice president for student affairs will determine if the grievance has merit and attempt to reach an amicable resolution. If the grievance resolution is not resolved at this stage, then the vice president for student affairs will convene the Grievance Committee. 

Grievance Committee 

The Grievance Committee shall be convened by the vice president for student affairs only after the complainant has complied with the procedure required in the grievance process. The Grievance Committee serves as a hearing and recommending body and reports its findings to the president of the University or his/her designee. The Grievance Committee shall conduct the hearing in accordance with the procedures in this policy. 

  1. All hearings must be conducted with the full committee present. If any member of the committee is unavailable, the president or his/her designee has the authority to appoint substitute members for the specific purpose of acting at this hearing. 
  2. In advance of the hearing, committee members will meet informally to review submitted materials and determine whether additional material or evidence is necessary for the hearing. 
  3. The committee chairperson shall then notify the complainant and other affected parties named in the grievance at least seven business days in advance of the hearing. Notice shall be in writing and transmitted by USPS mail to the address of record and email to the University-assigned email account, detailing the date, time, and place of the hearing. 
  4. Non-appearance of the complainant after notice may cause the grievance to be abandoned. 
  5. All committee proceedings are personnel matters and are therefore closed and private.  Committee members themselves are bound by strict confidentiality. There is no right to a public hearing. 
  6. All committee proceedings are recorded. Complete transcripts shall be provided upon request, but only upon payment of actual costs required for transcription. However, complete transcripts exclude the deliberations of the executive session of the committee, during which it makes its determination. 
  7. If the complainant is represented by counsel, committee proceedings shall not go forward without the presence and assistance of legal counsel to the committee. The attorney representing complainants at grievance committee hearing may not personally cross-examine witnesses, may not address the committee, may not raise motions or objections, and may not otherwise engage hearing attendees or procedures. The attorney may communicate directly and confidentially with his or her client in a manner consistent with the dignity of the proceedings. 
  8. Witnesses, when summoned to hearings, must be sequestered. 
  9. The chairperson of the committee (after consultation with counsel) rules on the relevance of questions.
  10. Individual committee members must not engage in discussions with any individual(s) advocating on the complainant’s behalf. 
  11. The committee submits a written, signed statement of findings to the President or his/her designee within a reasonable time, not to exceed five business days after conclusion of the hearing. 
  12. The findings of the committee are recommendations for action. 
  13. After the president or his/her designee receives the recommendations of the Grievance Committee, he or she reviews all information, evidence, and testimony relevant to the grievance with the assistance, if requested, of the vice president for student affairs. The president or his/her designee shall then render judgment which may include instruction, disciplinary actions, recommendations for additional management actions, and/or dismissal of all or any part of the grievance, as may be appropriate in accordance with applicable policy or law. 
  14. The president or his/her designee shall notify, in writing, all parties to the grievance of the disposition of the case. 
  15. Records of formal complaints and committee responses shall be kept in the Office of Inclusive Excellence for EEO/AA review only. All other copies are destroyed.

Appeal 

In the case of an adverse decision by the President and/or his/her designee, and after all administrative procedures of the University have been exhausted, the complainant may appeal the decision to the University of Louisiana System (ULS) Board of Supervisors. 
  
The ULS Board of Supervisors and McNeese State University recognize the necessity and desirability of providing employees a method and forum in which to resolve problems in the workplace in an orderly fashion. However, by the adoption of this policy, neither the ULS Board of Supervisors nor McNeese State University intends to confer upon University employees any additional right of substantive or procedural due process not mandated by law. 

Communication 

This policy is distributed via the Academic Advisory Council, Senior Staff, and the University Policies webpage.