The Catholic University of America

Complaint Resolution Procedure



Approved by: The President and his Council
History: Issued -- June 1, 1994
  Revised --
  Additional History
Related Policies:  
Additional References:  
Responsible Official: Associate VP/Chief Human Resources Officer tel. 202-319-5050


I.    Introduction

The university encourages open and constructive communication and recognizes that employees may have work-related concerns or problems on occasion. The university believes that employees are entitled to fair and consistent treatment and to prompt consideration and resolution of their work-related complaints. When they cannot resolve job-related problems or when they feel unfairly treated, they should first seek assistance from their supervisors who are responsible for making a good faith effort to air differences and to find resolutions to problems. If these efforts are not successful, employees are entitled to communicate the problem to the next level of management. If these measures are unsuccessful, employees are entitled to use the University Complaint Resolution Procedure without fear of prejudice or reprisal and with full assurance that their confidence will be respected.

II.    Definitions


III.   Who is Covered

This procedure is available to all permanent part-time and full-time employees except those whose terms and conditions of employment are outlined in a collective bargaining agreement. Eligibility for use of the procedure ceases on the effective date of the separation from employment, except that an employee whose complaint involves an involuntary separation will be considered eligible to initiate a complaint within ten (10) working days subsequent to the effective date of separation.

IV.   Scope

The grievance procedure will accommodate discussion and resolution of problems or issues in any terms, conditions or benefits of employment. Allegations of discrimination will be referred to the Equal Opportunity Officer.

V.    Termination of the Process

An employee may withdraw a complaint at any time by notifying the Director of Human Resources in Writing. The Director of Human Resources may terminate the procedure at any point if it is determined that the complainant has failed to take actions required by the procedure in a timely manner or otherwise impeded effective resolution of the complaint. If such action is necessary, both parties will be informed of it in writing.

VI.   Procedure

The employee must first discuss the situation with the immediate supervisor in an effort to reach a resolution. If a resolution is not reached, the assistance of the next level of management should be sought.

If an employee fails to reach an agreement after consultation with the dean/director, he/she should file a written complaint with the Director of Human Resources. The written complaint should contain the substantive points and the desired redress. If appropriate, the Director of Human Resources may arrange a meeting with the parties concerned in an attempt to resolve the problem.

If the employee is not satisfied with the suggested resolution, he/she may ask for a hearing before a University Grievance Committee.

Appeal of a decision of the University Grievance Committee by any of the parties may be made to the President. A decision by the President or the President's designated representative will be final.

In all cases, an employee will not be allowed to invoke the formal grievance committee hearing procedure unless he/she has given the Office of Human Resources an opportunity to resolve the complaint as provided for above.

VII.   Time Limits

Unless there is a persuasive reason to the contrary or the complaint involves a separation from employment, an employee will not be allowed to pursue a complaint that was brought to the attention of the immediate supervisor or of the Office of Human Resources more than seven (7) working days after the date of the occurrence. Exceptions to this rule require the approval of the Director of Human Resources.

VIII.   Grievance Committee

A roster of sixteen eligible employees will be maintained by the Director of Human Resources and reviewed by the Staff Advisory Council and the Equal Opportunity Officer at the beginning of each academic year. These employees will constitute a Hearing Panel. The Equal Opportunity Officer will ensure that there is an adequate representation of minorities and women and the Council will ensure an adequate representation of management and non-management staff. The Grievance Committee will be selected by the complainant and the university official whose action gave rise to the complaint. The names of eligible panel members will alternatively be eliminated by these two individuals until three names are left. These three persons will constitute the Grievance Committee.

Although grievance committees do not operate under formal rules of evidence, the following procedures will normally be followed:

  1. A hearing before the committee will be held not more than ten working days after the request for review.
  2. Three copies of the written grievance should be submitted to the Director of Human Resources, who will distribute them to all parties concerned at least two working days prior to the hearing.
  3. At least two working days prior to the hearing, the grievant must notify the committee chairperson of the name of any other member of the university staff who will assist the grievant at the hearing.
  4. In cases of discipline the committee must determine whether or not there was just cause for the discipline and whether or not due process was observed in dealing with the events leading up to the discipline.

IX.    Grievance Hearing

The following steps are the suggested procedure for the grievance hearing. Substantial changes in the suggested procedure may be made by the chairperson with the consent of the grievant and the responding supervisor. At the hearing, the supervisor who recommended discipline or discharge of the grievant will respond to the grievant's case.

Each side will present a brief opening statement. The statement should include a summary of what each side intends to prove.

Next, the parties in dispute will present their cases by providing either oral or documentary evidence of events considered relevant. Three copies should be supplied of all documents submitted. The chairperson will determine the admissibility of oral or documentary evidence according to the standard of relevancy.

The parties in dispute may call in and question witnesses who may also be questioned by the committee.

Each party may submit questions it wishes the committee to ask of witnesses called by the other party. The committee will either ask these questions or not as it sees fit, but the opposing party will not be allowed to personally cross-examine a witness. After testifying and answering questions, witnesses will be excused; they may be recalled by the committee.

The supervisor's case will be presented following the same procedures described above. In the case of disciplinary action, the principal witness must be the immediate supervisor who actually recommended discipline or discharge of the grievant.

Upon completion of the supervisor's case, each side will offer brief closing statements which will conclude the hearing. The committee will then retire to reach a decision.

X.    Resource Persons

The Director of Human Resources will serve as a resource person to the Committee and will provide information, as needed, with regard to pertinent university policy and Federal and District of Columbia legislation and regulations which may bear on the issues.

In addition, the Director of Human Resources, when appropriate, will provide any administrative services deemed necessary by the Grievance Committee, including, but not limited to, supplying copies of pertinent documents to the members, sending letters of notification to witnesses and typing the final report of the panel.

XI.   Final Report of the Grievance Committee

The chairperson of the Grievance Committee will have ultimate responsibility for the compilation of the final report of the committee which will contain, but will not be limited to:

  1. A description of the procedural aspects of the hearing including the names of the complainant, the university representative and the witnesses; the dates called; the number of meetings required; and, generally, the progress of the hearing.
  2. A clear, concise recitation of the facts determined in the course of the hearing.
  3. A statement of findings of the Grievance Committee.
  4. A clear statement of the recommendations of the Grievance Committee.

Within ten working days subsequent to the conclusion of the hearing, the signed report and all pertinent documentation bearing on the complaint, will be forwarded to the Director of Human Resources. The Director of Human Resources will forward it directly to the complainant and the supervisor involved as well as the dean or director and the cognizant vice president.

Should the recommendation of the Grievance Committee not be acceptable to one or both of the parties, the case may be forwarded to the President.

The President's decision is final within the university appeal process.

XII.   Grievance Procedure for Employees in a Collective Bargaining Agreement

Employees covered by collective bargaining agreements follow steps for grievance resolution outlined in their collective bargaining agreement. The applicable collective bargaining agreement must be examined for the exact details.