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ETSU employees may complete the Grievance & Complaint Procedures Online Training.
The purpose of these procedures is to provide a clear, orderly, and expedient method through which all employees of East Tennessee State University may process bona fide grievances or complaints.
It is the intention of East Tennessee State University to provide an effective process for the resolution of problems arising from the employment relationship or environment. To this end, a formal grievance/complaint procedure has been established for the use and benefit of all employees. It is the responsibility of administrative, academic, and line supervisors to inform and make available to all employees information concerning these procedures. When an employee believes a condition of employment affecting him/her is unjust, inequitable or a hindrance to the effective performance of his/her employment responsibilities, he/she should seek resolution through this mechanism without fear of coercion, discrimination or reprisal. The objective of East Tennessee State University's Grievance/Complaint Procedures is to make every effort to resolve a grievance/complaint at the lowest possible step.
These procedures apply to all employees and cover all employment related issues with the exception of Sexual Harassment, Affirmative Action Matters, and Tenure or Promotion decisions. These procedures have no application to a termination procedure initiated against a tenured faculty member under TBR Policy No. 5:02:03:60 Section V (1). The university has a separate set of guidelines for the processing of Sexual Harassment complaints and matters involving Affirmative Action (i.e., unlawful discrimination on the grounds of race, religion, color, sex, age, disability, national origin, veteran status, or sexual orientation/gender identity). Sexual Harassment complaints should be filed with those individuals outlined in the Grievance Procedures for the Resolution of Sexual Harassment Charges at East Tennessee State University while Affirmative Action matters should be filed with the Affirmative Action Officer. A separate Committee on Promotion/Tenure appeals exists for the disposition of matters involving tenure/or promotion. These procedures are not to be used for support staff employees who are demoted, suspended without pay, or terminated. In accordance with Tenn. Code Ann. § 49-8-117, Support Staff Grievance Procedure, Acts 1993, ch. 301, § 1, support staff employees who are demoted, suspended without pay, or terminated must follow the grievance process contained in the university’s PPP-61, Support Staff Grievance Procedures (TBR Guidelines P-111).
Moreover, an employee may choose to utilize these procedures for review by the grievance committee (established pursuant to the within guidelines) in the following situations:
Furthermore, the University may choose to utilize these procedures for review by the grievance committee (established pursuant to the written guidelines) when resolving a matter initiated pursuant to TBR Policy No. 5:02:02:20 (faculty promotion).
The President of the university has ultimate responsibility for the implementation of these procedures and is the final decision maker in the resolution of complaints. The final decision making authority in any action involving a grievance, pursuant to TBR Policy No. 1:02:11:00, resides with the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
The primary responsibility for resolving grievable matters rests with the employee/faculty member and his or her immediate supervisor. Initial steps should always be taken to resolve disputes at this level before proceeding to the following rules of implementation.
Step 1: Discussion with Immediate Supervisor /Administrator Instituting Employment Action
A grievance must be brought to the attention of the employee's immediate supervisor or the administrator instituting the employment action within fifteen (15) working days after the employee becomes aware of the problem. The employee should state the basis for the grievance and the corrective action desired in temperate and reasonable terms. The employee and the supervisor/administrator shall discuss the grievance in an attempt to resolve the matter in a mutually satisfactory manner. The supervisor/administrator shall conduct any necessary or appropriate investigation and inform the employee of a decision based upon full and fair consideration of all the facts within five (5) working days of the initial discussion. The immediate supervisor/administrator will assure that the decision is clearly communicated to, and understood by, the employee. If the employee is satisfied with the decision, no additional action is required. If the employee is not satisfied, the employee may proceed to Step 2. If no decision is communicated to the employee within five (5) working days of the initial discussion, the employee may proceed directly to Step 2.
Step 2: Discussion with Higher-Level Supervisor
If the employee and the immediate supervisor/administrator are not able to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the grievance, the employee may proceed to discuss the matter with the next-higher-level supervisor within fifteen (15) working days of the date of the decision of the immediate supervisor. Failure to comply with Step 2 in a timely manner shall be deemed a waiver by the employee for this particular occurrence and the grievance may not be raised again. The next-higher-level supervisor and the employee shall then follow the procedures required in Step 1.
If the employee is satisfied with the decision reached by the next-higher-level supervisor, no additional action is required. If the employee is not satisfied, the employee may proceed to Step 3. If no decision is communicated to the employee within five (5) working days of the initial discussion between the employee and the next-higher-level supervisor, the employee may proceed directly to Step 3.
Step 3: Written Grievance Statement
If the employee and the next-higher level supervisor are not able to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution to the grievance the employee may file a written grievance with his/her Vice President on the designated form (See Attachment III). The grievance must be filed within fifteen (15) working days of the date of the decision of the higher-level supervisor. Failure to comply with Step 3 in a timely manner shall be deemed a waiver by the grievant for this particular occurrence and the grievance may not be raised again.
A copy of the grievance, along with any supporting documentation, shall be given to the immediate supervisor and the next-higher-level supervisor. The Vice President may request either or both supervisors to respond in writing to the grievance statement. If the employee is satisfied with the decision reached by the Vice President no additional action is required. If the employee is not satisfied the employee may proceed to Step 4. If no decision is communicated to the employee within fifteen (15) working days after filing the grievance with the Vice President, the employee may proceed directly to Step 4.
Step 4: Written Grievance Statement to be received by the President and Grievance Committee
If the employee and the Vice President are unable to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution the employee may file with the President of the institution. Any grievant, who may otherwise be entitled to a hearing before the grievance committee, may waive such a hearing and accept the President’s findings. In such a case the waiver shall be in writing and signed by the grievant. The waiver should state the matter involved and should expressly state that the right of the grievant to a formal hearing by the Grievance Committee is knowingly and voluntarily waived.
If the grievant waives his/her rights to a hearing, the President shall within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the grievant's file, advise the grievant of the decision. The President's decision will be final and shall be directed to the employee. If no decision is communicated to the employee within fifteen (15) working days of filing the grievance the employee may file directly with the Chancellor of the Tennessee Board of Regents.
If the grievant does not waive the right to a hearing, the President shall, within five (5) days of receipt of the grievant's file, refer the grievance and all relevant documentation to the appropriate grievance committee. Within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the grievant's file the committee shall advise the President of its decision. The recommendation shall be based on a full and fair consideration of all the facts and circumstances. The report shall also contain a summary of the committee's investigation and findings. The President may then adopt the committee’s recommendation, in whole or in part, or may make his/her decision independent of the committee’s finding. The grievant shall be provided a copy of the committee’s report along with the President’s decision.
Step 5: Appeal of Grievance to the Chancellor, Tennessee Board of Regents
In any case where the President makes a decision which is adverse to the grievant, the President shall advise the grievant of his/her right to appeal the decision to the Chancellor. Grievances are appealable to the Chancellor only when the grievance falls within the parameters set out in TBR Policy 1:02:11:00. The employee’s appeal to the Chancellor must be filed within fifteen (15) calendar days of the date of notification of the President’s decision.
The steps involved in the resolution of complaints follow the same procedures as those outlined for the resolution of grievances with the following exceptions:
Copies of all written grievances/complaints and accompanying responses and documentation will be maintained with the Office of Human Resources for at least three (3) years. If a finding adverse to the grievant/complainant is made, the finding shall be maintained in the grievant/complainant’s personnel folder.
Source: Tennessee Board of Regents Personnel Guideline No. P-110, updated May 21, 2013