Mediation and Grievance Procedure for SPA Employees - Interim

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1. Unless otherwise exempted from coverage under the State Personnel Act, staff positions at East Carolina University (the University or ECU) are governed by personnel policies issued through the Office of State Human Resources (OSHR), as approved by the State Personnel Commission.

2. The University may also issue, and has issued, additional institutional personnel policies, regulations, and rules that apply to employees who are covered by the State Personnel Act (SPA). Such campus policies, regulations, and rules, which may be adopted and amended by the University from time to time, may be in response to or in addition to State requirements and are intended to supplement but not conflict with applicable state SPA policies.

3. OSHR's Personnel Manual contains the policies, regulations, and procedures that apply to persons employed in positions covered by the State Personnel Act. Policies and regulations approved by the State Personnel Commission, pursuant to the State's Administrative Code are available at the link referenced above.

4. Effective May 1, 2014, consistent with N.C. Gen. Stat. ยง 126-34.01, the University of North Carolina adopted system-wide procedures for SPA Employee grievances, linked above among Related Policies as "The University of North Carolina System SPA Employee Grievance Policy" ("System Grievance Policy"). This process applies to ECU employees in SPA positions and is administered collaboratively by the ECU Department of Human Resources and ECU's Office for Equity and Diversity (OED), as appropriate. To the extent that there may be any conflict between existing ECU policy, regulation or rule, the System Grievance Policy governs. This procedure applies to any grievance made by an SPA employee, regardless of the status of the respondent.

4.1. SPA employees with a grievance against a faculty member will have their grievance processed in accordance with this procedure, not the ECU Faculty Manual Part XII. Any disciplinary action taken against faculty as a result of the grievance, will be addressed through the process described in the ECU Faculty Manual, Part IX and Part XII, Section I.

4.2. Current University policies that are affected by this change include, but may not be limited to:

4.2.1. Mediation and Grievance Policy for SPA Employees (see Related Policies, above);

4.2.2. The SPA Disciplinary Procedures as outlined in the Business Manual;

4.2.3. The ECU Faculty Manual, Part XII, Section II and Section IV;

4.2.4. The University's Sexual Harassment, Discrimination and Conflicts of Interest Policies and Procedures;

5. Grievable issues are enumerated in Section IV of the System Grievance Policy, linked above.

6. What is Not Grievable under this Procedure:

6.1. Matters of inherent management rights are not subject to appeal under this procedure;

6.1.1. These matters include, but are not limited to, such areas as the program and functions of the University, standards of service, utilization of technology, and the assignment and reassignment of staff to positions, duty stations, and shifts, except where such transfers include a demotion to a lower classification.

6.2. A written warning is not grievable.

6.2.1. Should an employee wish to contest the written warning, s/he may write a letter "To the File" stating his/her point of view in the matter.

6.2.2. This document shall be forwarded to the Director of Employee Relations to be placed in the employee's permanent file along with the warning.

6.3. Generally, matters not specifically set out in the System Grievance Policy as those which can be grieved cannot be grieved or appealed to the OAH.

6.4. Specific questions on what is and is not covered grievable may be directed to the Director of Employee Relations.

7. General ECU Grievance Information

7.1. Correspondence: Unless otherwise specified in this procedure, copies of all correspondence and written documentation related to a grievance/appeal should be sent to: Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, Department of Human Resources, East Carolina University, 210 East First Street, Greenville, NC 27858, (252) 328-9884;

7.2. Deadlines: If a deadline falls on a non-workday or any established holiday, the deadline shall be extended until the next business day;

7.3. Postponement:

7.3.1. The postponement of any step of the internal grievance hearing will be considered only in the instance of a documented medical emergency or the death of an immediate family member of the grievant, management representative, or grievance panel committee member, as applicable.

7.3.2. The individual seeking the postponement will need to contact the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources at the earliest convenience when such circumstances occur.

7.3.3. In the event the grievant fails to show up for any step of the internal grievance hearing which s/he requested and of which s/he was notified in accordance with this procedure, and s/he has made no contact with the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources as set out above, and the grievant fails to provide sufficient reasons for non-attendance, the appeal will be permanently closed and noted as "withdrawn by grievant."

8. Procedures for Informal, Internal Non-Discrimination Grievances

8.1. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, Section VII, the University encourages direct communication between employees and supervisors as the first method of attempting to address grievances in the spirit of cooperation and compromise.

8.2. The supervisor or other appropriate personnel shall notify Human Resoucres when an employee requests and informal discussion. The supervisor is responsible for attempting to resolve the grievable issue with the employee.

9. Filing a Grievance

9.1. An employee who has adverse action taken against him/her will be given written notice of any applicable appeal rights;

9.1.1. Should the adverse action be grievable, the employee will be provided a copy of this procedure and the System Grievance Policy as an attachment/enclosure to the adverse action.

9.2. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, an eligible employee who wishes to grieve a decision internally, under this procedure, must file the grievance no later than fifteen (15) calendar days after the incident for which the employee is filing the grievance.

9.3. Available Assistance: Employees may contact an Employee Relations Specialist with questions related to this procedure.

10. Procedures for Prohibited Discrimination and/or Harassment Grievances -Coordination with the OED

10.1. If a grievant indicates an allegation of prohibited discrimination or harassment (based on one of the University's protected classes as covered by the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination policy) or retaliation relating thereto, the grievant should complete the EEO Informal Complaint Intake Form, available in Human Resources or the OED, no later than fifteen (15) calendar days after the incident for which the employee is filing the grievance. The completed EEO Informal Complaint Intake Form shall be referred to the OED for review and handling in accordance with the System Grievance Policy, Section VI.

10.1.1. SPA employees alleging discrimination or harassment based on creed, sexual orientation and veteran's status, while covered under the University's policy are not covered by the System Grievance Policy. These issues will also be referred to the OED for review and handling, but will not be subject to the System Grievance Policy.

10.2. Should the OED determine the issue is not within its purview, the OED will refer the employee back to Human Resources, and inform Grievant in writing regarding the conclusion of its investigation.

10.3. The grievance shall be held in abeyance during any review by the OED, consistent with the System Grievance Policy.

10.4. Upon completion of the OED's review, the OED will communicate the outcome of its investigation to the grievant and forward its conclusions to the Employee Relations Specialist, who will meet with the grievant in order to determine whether the grievant wants to file a formal grievance (which must occur within fifteen (15) calendar days of receiving the conclusions of the investigation) which will commence with mediation as outline in section 11, below.

10.5. If the grievance is successfully resolved, consistent with System Grievance Policy, Section VI, A., the Grievant may be asked to sign a letter of agreement detailing the terms of the resolution.

10.6. An allegation of unlawful discrimination or harassment or retaliation relating thereto may also be filed with the EEOC at any time.

10.6.1. Information about filing an EEOC charge and deadlines for filing the charge can be found here or by calling the EEOC regional offices located in Raleigh, Greensboro and Charlotte at 1 (800) 669-4000.

10.6.2. Information about filing through the Civil Rights Division of the Office of Administrative Hearings can be found here or by calling (919) 431-3036.

11. Mediation: Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, ECU provides the following Mediation Process as the first step in the grievance process.

11.1. Mediation is the first step in the grievance process and involves the services of neutral third person(s) who will serve as mediator(s).

11.2. Mediation provides an opportunity for the grievant and a designated university representative, serving as the respondent, to openly discuss the grievance with the goal of reaching a resolution that is mutually acceptable to both the employee and the University

11.3. Mediation only applies to those items listed in Section IV of the System Grievance Policy, referenced above.

11.4. Unless specifically indicated otherwise, all grievances must go through the University mediation process.

11.5. To initiate a grievance, the employee must complete entirely and present the SPA Employee Mediation and Appeal Request Form to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources within 15 calendar days of the contested action or after attempting resolving the grievance informally.

11.5.1. The mediation process shall be concluded within 35 calendar days from the filing of the grievance unless the parties agree in writing to a longer period of time.

11.6. Designation of Management Representative

11.6.1. The ECU mediation coordinator will notify the head of the division from which the grievance arises and request that s/he designate a management representative to serve as Respondent for the mediation. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, this individual will be qualified and informed, and will have the authority to negotiate an agreement on behalf of the University that resolves the grievance;

11.6.2. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, the management representative is responsible for notifying and receiving approval Human Resources, in advance of the scheduled mediation, if occurrences that are unavoidable or beyond the control of the respondent prevent attendance at the mediation;

11.6.3. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, the management representative is responsible for consulting with management, Human Resources and/or legal counsel regarding possible areas of negotiation.

11.7. Electronic Devices: Audiotape, videotape or other automated recordings are not permitted. Cell phones and other electronic devices should be turned off while mediation is in session.

11.8. Confidentiality: Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, Section VIII, all documents generated during the course of mediation and any communications shared in connection with mediation are confidential to the extent provided by law.

11.9. The Mediation agreement shall comport with the System Grievance Policy, section VIII, H and Human Resources shall be responsible for reviewing the proposed documents to ensure said compliance.

11.10. Human Resources will be responsible for ensuring that terms of the Mediation Agreement that are under the control of the University are implemented.

11.11. Breach of a Mediation Agreement: Employees and supervisors who breach a mediated agreement may be subject to disciplinary action up to an including dismissal based on unacceptable personal conduct.

12. Appeal to the Chancellor through the SPA Grievance Committee

12.1. Employees must comply with System Grievance Policy, in order to receive a hearing before an SPA Grievance Panel.

12.2. In situations where mediation does not produce an agreement, employees may appeal to the University's SPA Grievance Panel, and Human Resources will notify the Grievant of the opportunity to present the grievance orally to a Hearing Panel outside of the employee's chain of command.

12.2.1. Any request for review by the SPA Grievance Panel must be received by the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources within five (5) calendar days of receipt of the Notice of Mediation Impasse form, which is signed by all parties and the mediator, and shall be concluded within 35 days of filing unless the parties to mutually agree to extend this time, not to exceed 90 days, for completion of the entire grievance review.

12.2.2. The Panel shall consist of three voting members. None of the members shall be from the same operational unit as the grievant.

12.2.2.1. The Panel shall not be made up entirely of supervisory or administrative personnel.

12.2.2.2. If any respondent is a faculty member, the University shall include at least one, full-time tenured member of the ECU faculty on the Panel, unless respondent waives this requirement.

12.3. Panel and two alternates will be selected from the Panel Pool ("Pool") that is comprised representatives from different divisions of the University.

12.3.1. Each division will have diverse representation in the Pool. Members of the Pool will serve a period of twelve months and may be called to serve on the Panel during that period.

12.3.2. The selected members of the Panel shall receive training on the hearing process and sign confidentiality statements.

12.3.3. Human Resources will notify parties of panel members at least ten (10) work days in advance of the date and location of the hearing.

12.4. Each party, which includes the grievant, the management representative and the members of the Panel, shall be notified at least ten (10) work days in advance of the date and location of the hearing.

12.4.1. Once notified, the Panel will convene and select the Chairperson and determine alternates for that specific hearing.

12.4.2. At least seven (7) work days prior to the scheduled date of the hearing, the grievant and the management representative must provide to the Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources a list of any and all witnesses that they wish to have present at the hearing.

12.4.2.1. The Associate Vice Chancellor of Human Resources will provide the list of witnesses to the Chairperson of the Panel.

12.4.2.2. The grievant and management representative will be responsible for notifying their own witnesses as to the date, time and location of the hearing.

12.4.2.3. Witness attendance at a hearing is voluntary; therefore, witnesses do not have to attend.

12.4.3. Consistent with the System Grievance Policy, Section IX, the grievant must submit any written challenge to members of up to two (2) members of the panel in writing five (5) calendar days of receipt of notification of the identity of the Panel where there is an issue of whether the members can render an unbiased decision.

12.4.3.1. The members are eliminated, the alternates will serve as voting replacements on the Panel.

12.4.3.2. Should no members be eliminated, the alternates will be excused from the hearing.

12.4.4. Neither the Associate Vice Chancellor or Human Resources nor the Employee Relations staff members shall serve in any capacity on the Panel or participate in any deliberations of the Panel. They may only serve as advisors on personnel policy.

12.5. At the end of the hearing, it will be the responsibility of the Chairperson of the Panel draft for the Chancellor a proposed recommendation for a final University decision, consistent with the System Grievance Policy, Section IX, F.

12.6. The Chancellor will review and process the final University decision, in consultation with the Executive Director of OSHR consistent with the System Grievance Policy, Section IX, F and G.

13. Appeal: The Final University Decision, consistent with the System Grievance Policy, will inform the Grievant in writing of any appeal rights through the Office of Administrative Hearings for contested case issues. The Grievant must be specifically informed of the following:

13.1. The appeal is made by filing a "Petition for a Contested Case" hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings;

13.2. The appeal to the Office of Administrative Hearings must be filed within 30 calendar days after the Grievant receives the Final University Decision; and

13.3. A fee is charged for filing a Petition for a Contested Case Hearing.

14. Grievant Access to the Office of Administrative Hearings

14.1. If the Grievant is not satisfied with the Final University Decision, the Grievant may file a Petition for Contested Case Hearing in the Office of Administrative Hearings in cases where the grievable issue may be appealed. An Administrative Law Judge will conduct a hearing and render a Final Decision.

14.2. A Petition for Contested Case Hearing must be filed within 30 calendar days after the Grievant receives the Final University Decision. The Grievant may file the appeal at:

Office of Administrative Hearings
1711 New Hope Church Road (Physical Address)
Raleigh, NC 27609
6714 Mail Service Center (Mailing Address)
Raleigh, NC 27699-6714
(919) 431-3000

14.3. Hearing procedure requirements and filing form (OAH Form H-06A) can be obtained from the Office of Administrative Hearings here or by calling (919) 431-3000.

15. Grievance Record Maintenance and Review

15.1. In accordance with the UNC General Records Retention and disposition Schedule, all grievance records will be maintained for a period of at least three (3) years.

15.2. Grievances filed and all related information will be analyzed on an annual basis by demographics, group and nature of issues grieved to ensure that University policies and procedures are administered fairly and consistently and follow good employee relations practices.

15.3. The Director of Employee Relations will respond to all requests for information regarding grievances and appeals and will report this and other relevant information as requested to the other appropriate authorities.

15.4. This policy will be forwarded to OSHR on a schedule determined by OSHR for their review to ensure that it is in compliance with current State laws and rules.

15.5. As required by the System Grievance Policy, Human Resources will maintain grievance data in the Grievance Log provided by OSHR.

15.6. This policy will be reviewed internally on an annual basis to determine implementation of goals and procedures.