Appendix C

Employee Grievance and Complaint Policy and Procedures

A. Purpose
B. Statement of Policy and Definitions
C. Definitions
D. Committee Process
E. Scope and Applicability of Procedures
F. Responsibility for Implementation
G. Grievance and Complaint Process

A. Purpose

The purpose of these procedures is to provide a clear, orderly and effective method through which all employees of Nashville State Community College (Nashville State or the college) may process bona fide grievances and complaints.

B. Statement of Policy and Definitions

Policy

It shall be the policy of Nashville State to provide an effective process for the resolution of problems arising from the employment relationship or environment. To this end, a formal grievance and complaint procedure shall be established for the use and benefit of all employees. It shall be the responsibility of the administration to publish these procedures and the responsibility of all personnel to know these procedures and follow them explicitly when they are needed. The procedures will be published in the Faculty and Staff Handbook and made available through the Office of Human Resources. The forms necessary to file a grievance will be available in the Office of Human Resources.

In matters concerning harassment—sexual, racial, and other—Nashville State will follow Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) policies and guidelines (see TBR Guideline P-080 Discrimination & Harassment - Complaint & Investigation Procedure).

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C. Definitions

Matters Subject to the Grievance or Complaint Procedure

There shall be two types of matters which Nashville State shall address through these procedures, a., grievances, which are subject to committee review, and b., complaints, which must be resolved without committee review:

  1. Grievances (Committee Review Available)
    An employee may grieve only those matters defined in a) and b) below. A grievance may result from any action Nashville State has taken against the employee which:
    1. Violates Nashville State or TBR policy, or involves an inconsistent application of these same policies; or
    2. Violates any constitutional right. The most likely areas of concern are the First, Fourth or Fourteenth Amendment of the federal constitution when that action hampers free speech, freedom of religion, the right to association, provides for improper search and seizure, or denies constitutionally required notice or procedures.
  2. Complaints (Committee Review not Available)
    A complaint is a concern which an employee wants to discuss with supervisory personnel in an effort to resolve the matter. A few examples of complaints are: 1) dissatisfaction with a work assignment; 2) dissatisfaction with an office because it has no windows and everyone else in the department has windows; 3) a change of shift has been requested for several years, yet an outside person is employed when a position on the desired shift becomes open.
  3. Matters NOT Subject to the Grievance or Complaint Procedure
    Personnel actions, such as performance evaluations, rates of pay, position reclassifications, or position terminations due to reduction in force fall neither under the definition of grievance nor complaint.
  4. Employee(s)
    All references to the term, “employee(s)” contained in these procedures include only those individuals defined in this paragraph. Employees shall include administrative, faculty (including full-time faculty on term or temporary contracts), professional, clerical, and support personnel. Probationary employees also are included in this definition. Not included in the definition of employee(s) are student workers, adjunct faculty, and temporary workers.
  5. Procedural Assistant
    The Director of Human Resources shall serve as a procedural assistant in filing a grievance by acting as a reference for TBR policies and procedures and Nashville State policies and procedures including the Employee Grievance and Complaint Procedures. The procedural assistant is not an advisor, and no counsel is given by this individual. If a grievance should involve an employee of the Office of Human Resources, the President shall appoint a substitute.
  6. Grievance Committee
    The President of Nashville State shall appoint a grievance committee to hear each grievance, in accordance with the nature of the grievance and with consideration to peer representation. Appointment shall be from a pool of faculty members, recommended by the Faculty Senate, through its chair, and a pool of staff members, recommended by the Staff Assembly, through its chair. This process shall accommodate grievances among faculty, administrative, professional, clerical, and support personnel. The Grievance Committee shall be advisory and responsible to the President directly in fulfilling its responsibilities.
    1. Faculty Recommendations
      The Faculty Senate shall recommend to the President a pool of no fewer than twelve (12) Faculty Senate members for possible service on a Grievance Committee, to be appointed by the President. Membership in the pool shall be representative of tenured and non-tenured faculty.
    2. Staff Recommendations
      The Staff and Administrative Assemblies shall recommend to the President a pool of staff members for possible service on a Grievance Committee to be appointed by the President. Membership in the pool shall be representative of all the areas of the college. At least four (4) persons shall be recommended from each employment subcategory: Professional and Clerical/Support Personnel.

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D. Committee Process

  1. The President shall appoint a committee of three (3) to five (5) members from the pools to hear an individual grievance.
  2. The committee shall select a chairperson who is responsible for submitting the written recommendation of the committee to the President.
  3. Where a committee member has an interest in the outcome of the grievance, the President will find a suitable replacement for said individual in order to avoid a biased recommendation. The Grievant is entitled to one (1) preemptory challenge.
  4. The designated committee shall conduct an independent and thorough investigation. It has the power to receive evidence from the Grievant, gather evidence from other sources, and call witnesses.
  5. The committee shall conduct fact-finding by providing a hearing where each witness, including the Grievant, will be interviewed separately. In cases where the committee is being utilized to hear a harassment matter, the committee will allow the parties the right to confront witnesses. The Grievant shall be allowed to present any pertinent evidence to the committee and to have the committee call those witnesses who have testimony pertinent to the decision.
  6. The Grievant shall be entitled to be accompanied by an advisor at each step of the grievance procedure. The advisor may not act as an advocate, but may act only as an advisor.

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E. Scope and Applicability of Procedures

These procedures shall apply to all employees of Nashville State with reference to grievances as set forth in the details above and complaints as set forth in the details above. All employees shall have access to the Grievance and Complaint Procedure. The grievance committee hearing process (established pursuant to said section of this procedure) may be utilized when requested by an employee in the following situations:

All employees are encouraged to discuss any problem with their respective supervisor or unit (e.g., department, division, branch) head prior to utilizing any grievance or complaint procedure. Every reasonable effort should be made to resolve each grievance or complaint at the lowest administrative level possible.

All personnel are expected to refer to the latest official organizational structure of the college (available in the Office of the President) in determining appropriate personnel for the filing of a grievance or complaint, e.g. immediate supervisor, next higher level supervisor, or branch vice president.

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F. Responsibility for Implementation

The President of Nashville State shall have ultimate responsibility for implementation of the Grievance and Complaint Procedures and shall provide the final decision in the resolution of complaints at the institutional level. Grievances shall be appealable to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents only where they fit within the parameters of TBR Policy 1:02:11:00. This generally includes all grievances defined above (except those grievances where the individual has filed a lawsuit or claim with a state or Federal administrative body).

No employee shall retaliate or discriminate against another employee because of the latter employee’s filing of a grievance or complaint. In addition, no employee shall coerce another employee or interfere with the action of another employee in the latter employee’s attempt to file a grievance or complaint. Supervisors shall be held responsible for ensuring that every employee is free from fear of retaliation, coercion and/or discrimination arising from the employee’s filing of or intent to file a grievance or complaint.

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G. Grievance and Complaint Process

Greivances

Guiding Principles

All grievances shall adhere to the following principles:

  1. The grievance, beginning at Step 2, shall be in writing, on the form approved by the President and available in the Office of Human Resources or in HR’s Public Folders.
  2. An employee may not present the same grievance again after it has gone through the process as indicated herein. If a new grievance arises from a repeated or continuing occurrence of a former one, the time limit for filing a new grievance is from the date of the last such occurrence.
  3. Implementation of the grievance procedure shall not impact severely the work flow of the college, although employees shall be given the opportunity to pursue grievances during working hours. All parties in a grievance shall have equal access to all persons, places, and official records for information necessary in the determination and processing of a grievance, and all requests for the same shall be made through the Office of Human Resources during normal office hours of the college.
  4. A grievance may be withdrawn formally by the Grievant at any stage.
  5. If the Grievant shall fail to meet the time requirements of this process at any stage, the grievance shall be assumed to have been settled. If the respondent should fail to meet a deadline, the Grievant may move immediately to the next step in the process. Upon the written request of either party and for good cause, the President or his/her designee may approve the extension of the specified time period at any stage of the process.
  6. A copy of each grievance and all pertinent documentation shall be maintained in the Office of Human Resources for at least three (3) years following resolution.
  7. A grievance which is the subject of an action filed with an external body shall not be processed through this grievance procedure. The term “external body” includes a court of federal/state administrative body, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of Civil Rights, or Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
Steps in the Filing of a Grievance

Step 1. Immediate Supervisor
Step 2. Next Higher Level Supervisor
Step 3. Branch Vice President
Step 4. President
Step 5. Appeal to the Chancellor

  1. Immediate Supervisor(s)
    1. An employee shall discuss a proposed grievance with his/her immediate supervisor within fifteen (15) working days after the employee becomes aware of the problem. This meeting will be at the request of the employee and will be considered the initial meeting on the matter. The employee should state at the meeting that the meeting is for the purpose of discussing a possible grievance action, the basis for the proposed grievance, and the corrective action desired in temperate and reasonable terms. The employee and the supervisor(s) shall discuss the proposed grievance in an attempt to resolve the matter in a mutually satisfactory manner. The supervisor(s) shall conduct any necessary or appropriate investigation and shall inform the employee of the decision, based upon the full and fair consideration of all of the facts within fifteen (15) working days of the initial meeting on the matter.
    2. The immediate supervisor of the employee shall ensure that the decision is communicated clearly to the employee. If the employee is satisfied with the decision, no additional action shall be required.
    3. If the employee is grieving initially an action of the immediate supervisor, the employee may begin the grievance process at Step 2.
    4. If the employee is not satisfied with the decision of the immediate supervisor(s) or if the immediate supervisor(s) fail(s) to communicate a decision within fifteen (15) working days of the final decision, the employee may proceed to Step 2 of this process.

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  2. Next Higher Level Supervisor
    1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the decision at Step 1, an employee may file a grievance at Step 2 with the next higher level supervisor. The proposed grievance—which shall be in writing on the form approved by the President for this purpose and which shall state the basis for the proposed grievance and the corrective action desired in temperate and reasonable terms—shall be signed and dated by the employee and by the supervisor(s) who reviewed the grievance at Step 1. The supervisor(s) will attest to the fact that he/she considered the facts as cited in the grievance filed by the employee and made an earnest effort to resolve the matter at Step 1. The Director of the Office of Human Resources will determine whether the matter described in the grievance document is a grievable matter. This decision shall be provided in writing to the employee within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the grievance document. If the matter is determined to be a grievance under the definition cited in above, the Office of Human Resources will assign a number to the grievance for reference. If the matter is determined not to be a grievable matter, it will be referred to the Vice President under whom the employee works for final disposition. Copies of the written and signed grievance document shall be filed immediately with the Office of Human Resources.
    2. Following a meeting of the Grievant and the investigating supervisor, for the purpose of discussing the proposed grievance and attempting to resolve it, the investigating supervisor, within fifteen (15) working days of said meeting, shall investigate the matter and—after considering fully all facts in the matter—shall render a written decision on the same grievance form.
    3. The investigating supervisor shall ensure that the decision is communicated clearly to the charged party. The grievance form on which the decision is communicated shall be signed and dated both by the investigating supervisor and by the Grievant. If the Grievant is satisfied with the decision, no additional action shall be required. Copies of the grievance form, signed and dated by the Grievant and the investigating supervisor, and all documentation pertaining to the grievance shall be filed immediately with the Office of Human Resources.
    4. If the Grievant is not satisfied with the decision of the investigating supervisor or if the investigating supervisor fails to communicate a decision within fifteen (15) working days of the final decision, the employee may proceed to Step 3 of this process.

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  3. Branch Vice President
    1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the decision at Step 2, an employee may file a grievance at Step 3 with his/her Branch Vice President of the person whose action(s) are being grieved, using the grievance form used in Step 2 of this process which shall be obtained from the Office of Human Resources or HR’s Public Folders.
    2. Following a meeting of the Grievant and the Vice President for the purpose of discussing the grievance and attempting to resolve it in a mutually satisfactory manner, the Vice President, within fifteen (15) working days of the meeting, shall investigate the matter and—after considering fully all facts in the matter—shall render a written decision on the same grievance form.
    3. The Vice President shall ensure that the decision is communicated clearly to the employee. The grievance form on which the decision was filed at Step 2 and Step 3 shall be signed and dated both by the Vice President and the Grievant. If the Grievant is satisfied with the decision, no additional action shall be required. Copies of the grievance form, signed and dated by the Grievant and the Vice President, and all documentation pertaining to the grievance shall be filed immediately with the Office of Human Resources.
    4. If the employee is not satisfied with the decision of the Vice President or if the Vice President fails to communicate a decision within fifteen (15) working days of the final decision, the employee may proceed to Step 4 of this process.

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  4. President
    1. Within fifteen (15) working days of the decision at Step 3, the employee may file a grievance at Step 4 with the President of the college or his/her designee. The grievance form used in Step 2 and Step 3 shall be obtained from the Office of Human Resources or HR’s Public Folders by the Grievant and used to file a grievance at Step 4 with the President of the college or his/her designee.
    2. Within fifteen (15) working days following receipt of the Grievant’s file, the President of the college or his/her designee will select a Grievance Committee from the applicable pools and will transmit the Grievant’s file to the Grievance Committee.
    3. Within fifteen (15) working days following receipt of the Grievant’s file, the Grievance Committee in a formal report shall advise the President or his/her Designee of its findings and recommendations, based upon a full, fair and independent investigation and consideration of the facts and circumstances. All documentation pertaining to the grievance shall be filed immediately with the Office of Human Resources.
    4. Upon receipt of the report of the Grievance Committee, the President or his/her Designee may accept the recommendations of the Grievance Committee in whole or in part or may make his/her decision independent of the Committee’s findings and recommendation. In either case, within fifteen (15) working days of receipt of the report of the Grievance Committee, the President or his/her Designee shall render a written decision to the Grievant, also providing the Grievant a copy of the report to the Grievance Committee.
    5. The President/Designee shall ensure that the decision is communicated clearly to the Grievant. If the Grievant is satisfied with the decision, no additional action shall be required.
    6. If the employee is not satisfied with the decision of the President/Designee or if the President/Designee fails to communicate a decision within fifteen (15) working days of the receipt of the report of the Grievance Committee, the employee may proceed to Step 5 of this process. Otherwise, the decision of the President shall be final.

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  5. Appeal to the Chancellor
    1. Grievances processed through the Grievance Committee are subject to appeal to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents only where they fall within the parameters set forth in TBR Policy 1:02:11:00. This generally includes all grievances defined above.
    2. In any case where the President makes a decision that is adverse to the Grievant, the President, in accordance with 5, a) above, shall advise the Grievant of his/her right to appeal the decision to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
    3. In the event the case is eligible for review by the Chancellor, the Grievant shall file a grievance with the Chancellor within fifteen (15) working days of the date of the President’s decision. The decision of the Chancellor shall be final.

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Complaints

Guiding Principles

Resolution of complaints, at a minimum, requires the college to a) allow the employee to present facts and/or materials; b) investigate the dispute; and c) attempt to find a solution. The President or his/her Designee shall make the final decision. Complaints do not provide one a right to any type of hearing, adversarial proceeding, or the right to appeal to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents. Additionally, all complaints shall adhere to the following principles:

  1. The complaint, beginning at Step 2, shall be in writing, on the form approved by the President and available in the Office of Human Resources.
  2. The Complainant shall be entitled to be accompanied by an advisor at each step of the complaint procedure; however, the advisor may not act as an advocate, but may act as an advisor only.
  3. An employee may not present the same complaint again after it has gone through the process as indicated herein. If a new complain arises from a repeated or continuing occurrence of a former one, the time limit for filing a new complaint is from the date of the last such occurrence.
  4. Implementation of the complaint procedure shall not impact severely the work flow of the college, although employees shall be given the opportunity to pursue complaints during working hours. All parties in a complaint shall have equal access to all persons, places, and official records for information necessary in the determination and processing of a complaint and all requests for the same shall be made through the Office of Human Resources during normal office hours of the college.
  5. A complaint may be withdrawn formally by the initiating employee at any stage.
  6. If the Complainant should fail to meet the time requirements of this process, at any stage, the complaint shall be assumed to have been settled. If the respondent should fail to meet a deadline, the Complainant may move immediately to the next step in the process. Upon the written request of either party and for good cause, the President or his/her Designee may approve the extension of the specified time period at any stage of the process.
  7. A copy of each complaint and all pertinent documentation shall be maintained in the Office of Human Resources for at least three (3) years following resolution.
Steps in the Filing of a Complaint

Steps in the filing and processing of a complaint shall be the same as for a grievance, except that a Committee shall not be involved in the complaint process and the decision of the President of the college or his/her Designee shall be final; there shall be no right to appeal to the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.

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