Section IX: Discipline / Grievance Procedure
It is neither possible nor desirable for the College to list every possible act or failure to act that may result in discipline for an employee. Accordingly, this Employee Handbook does not attempt to do so. Instead, this College offers this section as an outline of its general approach to employee disciplinary matters.
While the College endeavors to maintain fair practices with all employees, unusual or particular circumstances may warrant or require the College to take action, or to fail to take action, in a manner different from that described in the Employee Handbook or used in other situations. The College, therefore, reserves the right to evaluate circumstances or conditions of each employee on a case-by-case basis and apply discipline accordingly.
This section does not apply to the employment of trial employees or affect their at will status in any way.
As used throughout Section IX, working days shall mean Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., except when one of those days is a holiday.
The College will first give regular employees the opportunity to explain and justify the conduct in question prior to administering discipline, as defined below. Progressive discipline, as outlined below, may be used where the College, in its sole discretion, believes that the employee may be able to correct the behavior. The College retains the discretion to skip or combine these steps based on the circumstances.
- Written Reprimand. The employee may be issued a written reprimand about the problem by the supervisor. Repetition of the problem or additional problems may result in further discipline, including possible suspension, probation or termination. A copy of the reprimand is given to the employee and the original is placed in the employee’s file.
- Suspension and Probation. Misconduct that, in the supervisor’s discretion, warrants discipline greater than a written reprimand but does not warrant immediate discharge may result in suspension of the employee for up to 10 working days without pay, probation, or a combination of the two. Probation and suspension notices shall be in writing with a copy given to the employee and the original placed in the employee’s file.
- Termination. The employment of regular employees can be terminated for just cause.
- Just Cause. “Just cause” shall mean a reason that is rationally related to an employee’s competence or turpitude or the proper performance of the employee’s duties. Examples of just cause include, but are not limited to: failure to improve performance or behavior after receiving warning, reprimand, suspension or probation; violation of the College’s Code of Conduct (Section IV); where, in the supervisor’s judgment, the employee’s continued employment would jeopardize the well-being of the College, its employees or students; and violation of other College policies such as those listed in Section XII of this handbook and other misconduct as defined by the College.
Employees who believe they have been unfairly treated may request or may be asked to participate in mediation of a dispute. The Human Resources Department is contacted to set up the mediation.
- Persons Covered. Regular full-time and part-time employees are covered by the College’s grievance procedure(s). Trial period employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement are not covered by this grievance procedure. (For grievances involving acts of alleged discrimination, including sexual harassment, contact the Human Resources Department for a separate grievance procedure. Also see Sections 3.04 and 4.03.)
- Conference Before Discipline. Prior to pursuing the formal grievance procedure, employees and supervisors are encouraged to confer in an attempt to resolve any matters which may become the subject of a grievance and to indicate whether or not mediation of the dispute is desired
- Initiation of Grievance
- An employee who believes that he or she has been unfairly or unjustly disciplined by suspension or probation or unfairly or unjustly recommended for termination shall submit in writing a grievance stating reasons why the action should not have been taken and what the recommended resolution should be. The grievance shall be submitted to the Human Resources Department within 10 working days from the date of the act or action which is the subject of the grievance.
- The Human Resources Department shall note the date of receipt of the grievance on the face of the grievance.
- The Human Resources Department, upon receiving the written grievance, shall immediately notify the supervisor against whom the grievance has been filed (the “Action Supervisor”) and provide that supervisor with a copy of the grievance.
- The Action Supervisor shall respond in writing to the grievance within 10 working days of the date the grievance was received by such supervisor and shall deliver such response to the Human Resources Department. The Human Resources Department shall promptly deliver a copy of the response to the grievant.
- The Human Resources Department shall promptly refer the grievance and response to the supervisor of the Action Supervisor. Such supervisor receiving the grievance and response (the “Deciding Supervisor”) shall review the matter, shall meet with the grievant and the Action Supervisor against whom the grievance was filed, shall confer with those persons who have relevant information about the grievance and response as the Deciding Supervisor determines would be helpful in reaching a decision, and shall issue a written decision within 10 working days after the grievance was received by the Deciding Supervisor. The written decision shall be delivered to the Human Resources Department which will promptly deliver a copy of the decision to the grievant and the Action Supervisor.
- Appeal to Grievance Panel
- The grievant may file a written appeal from the decision of the Deciding Supervisor within five working days from the date of the decision of the Deciding Supervisor. The appeal shall be filed with the Human Resources Department and the date of receipt of the appeal shall be noted on the face of the appeal.
- The Human Resources Department shall select a three-member Grievance Panel consisting of two administrators and one employee.
- The designated Grievance Panel, through the Human Resources Department, shall set a date for hearing the appeal no fewer than 10 working days and no more than 30 calendar days after the panel has been selected. The time and place for the hearing will be communicated to the grievant, the Action Supervisor and the Deciding Supervisor.
- The designated Grievance Panel shall convene prior to the hearing to select a chair and discuss procedural and other matters.
- The grievant and the College may each be represented by counsel (retained by the respective parties) at the hearing before the panel. The grievant shall notify the Human Resources Department no fewer than three working days before the date set for the hearing as to whether he or she will have an attorney representing him or her at the hearing, and the College will be represented by counsel only if the grievant is represented by counsel.
- The College shall present its case first and have the burden of establishing just cause for the disciplinary action taken. The grievant shall then have the opportunity to present the grievant’s case using such witnesses and exhibits as the grievant or grievant’s attorney wishes to use. The College may then offer rebuttal evidence or testimony at its discretion. Submission of testimony and exhibits shall not be governed by formal rules of evidence, but shall be subject to the Grievance Panel’s reasonable discretion as to relevance and probative value.
- The appeal hearing shall be tape recorded and a copy of the tape recording shall be made available to the grievant and the College upon request of either.
- The hearing shall be closed after the grievant and the College have made closing arguments with the College proceeding first, the grievant second, and the College third on rebuttal, if any.
- Within 10 working days after the close of the hearing, the Grievance Panel shall issue a written decision on the grievance. The written decision shall contain findings of fact as to the circumstances of the grievance and shall include a conclusion upholding, reversing or modifying the previous decision on the grievance. The panel shall have the authority to request suggested findings of fact from the grievant and the College and, if the panel does so, the decision need not be rendered until 10 working days after the receipt by the panel of the suggested findings of fact. The written decision shall be delivered to the Human Resources Department and the Human Resources Department will promptly deliver a copy of the decision to the grievant, the Action Supervisor, the Deciding Supervisor, and the Dean or Vice President.
- Appeal to the Governing Board
- Within10 working days from the date of the Grievance Panel’s decision, the grievant may submit to the Human Resources Department a written request that the Governing Board review the decision of the Grievance Panel.
- The request shall contain a brief statement of the grounds for the requested review. The Human Resources Department will distribute the request for review to the president, who will distribute the request to the Governing Board, together with copies of the grievance, the response, the decisions of the Deciding Supervisor and the Grievance Panel, and all appeals previously filed by grievant.
- The Governing Board shall consider the request for review no later than at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Governing Board and, in its sole discretion, may grant or deny the request by majority vote of the Board.
- The Governing Board through the Human Resources Department shall give written notice to the grievant of its decision to grant or deny the request by majority vote of the Board.
- If granted, the review by the Governing Board shall be solely on the record of the prior proceedings. The Human Resources Department shall transmit to the members of the Governing Board, in addition to the material already furnished, the transcripts or tapes of the testimony from the hearing before the Grievance Panel and any evidentiary materials received in evidence by the Grievance Panel. The review by the Governing Board shall be solely on the record of the proceedings which have occurred. The Board shall issue its written decision within 30 working days after the Board grants the request for review. The written decision shall be delivered to the Human Resources Department, which will promptly deliver a copy of the decision to the grievant, the Action Supervisor, the Deciding Supervisor, the Dean or Vice President and the members of the Grievance Panel.
- Failure to Comply with Time Limits. Failure of the grievant to comply with the various listed time limits shall result in affirmance of any imposed or recommended disciplinary action. Failure of the College to comply with the various listed time limits shall result in the grievance being automatically appealed to the next level of the procedure. Both parties may agree to an extension of any of the listed time limits. If good cause is shown, an extension to any of the listed time limits may be granted by the President or the Governing Board.