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Princeton University
Office of the Dean of the Faculty

Grievance Procedures for the Professional Staffs (Librarians, Researchers, and Specialists)

0. PURPOSE

These procedures for the orderly and prompt settlement of work-related grievances are available to all professional librarians, professional researchers, and professional specialists.   A work-related grievance can arise when a staff member believes that he/she has been treated unfairly or in a manner inconsistent with University policy by a supervisor.   Separate procedures for settling complaints relating (1) salary, reappointment and/or promotion and (2) concerning all other terms and conditions or work including dismissal or suspension are described below.

Most individual job-related problems can be resolved within established policy and practice by informal discussion or by bringing the issue to the attention of the supervisor’s supervisor.   However, individuals should feel free to present a grievance for consideration and resolution via the procedures described below.   No professional staff member shall be penalized or disadvantaged for raising or pursuing a work-related complaint, for serving as a representative of a person involved in such a complaint, or for providing information as requested in connection with the processing of a grievance.   An individual who believes that he/she has been unfairly treated or penalized for such activities may present a complaint as a grievance under this procedure.

Matters involving a change of policy or general representations or complaints, that are not individual grievances, should be presented to the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.   Arrangements may then be made to present the proposed changes in policies or procedures to the appropriate University officials, committees or bodies.

As used in this document the words Grievant and Respondent have the following meanings:   Grievant(s) is the person (or persons) who complains against a supervisory action or against his or her particular work conditions or terms of employment.   The Respondent(s) is the supervisory person (or persons) who has taken action giving rise to the complaint or is responsible for alleged unfair or inequitable terms or conditions of employment. Hereafter in this document the singular forms, Grievant and Respondent, may be used in a collective sense to include two or more persons in a particular grievance case.

1.0 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE FOR SETTLING COMPLAINTS RELATING TO SALARY, APPOINTMENT, RE-APPOINTMENT, AND/OR PROMOTION

This procedure consists of two steps: a relatively informal attempt by Grievant, Respondent and their immediate supervisors to resolve the problem and, if this is not successful, a formal review by the appropriate professional staff committee, which makes a recommendation to the Dean of the Faculty.

1.1 Step I: Internal review

A complaint that mainly concerns salary, reappointment and/or promotion should first be taken up with the staff member’s supervisor and then (or initially if more appropriate) with the Department Chair, Program Director, Associate University Librarian or Art Museum Director for information, explanation and discussion.   If the Grievant’s complaint is not resolved to his/her satisfaction, the Grievant may request a review of the complaint by the Library Committee on Committees and Elections (CCE) or the Committee on Appointments and Advancements for the Professional Researchers and Professional Specialists (C/7), as appropriate (collectively referred to as the “Committee”). The Grievant initiates the review by submitting a written statement of his/her grievance to the Associate Dean of the Faculty with responsibility for the professional staff within five days of the termination of discussions with the Grievant’s supervisor (or others) referenced above.   A copy of the statement should be submitted at the same time to the Grievant’s supervisor.   Within ten working days of receiving the request for review, the Associate Dean should arrange for the appropriate Committee to meet to review the complaint

1.2 Step II: Committee review

The CCE (for cases involving University Library staff) or the C/7 (for cases involving other professional staff) will review complaints from professional staff members whose grievances could not be resolved in Step I.   Inquiries are conducted in an informal manner providing an orderly and careful presentation of each point of view. The Committee chair presides and works out procedural plans in consultation with the Committee, the grievant and the respondent. The grievant and the respondent should indicate to the Committee what files and which persons he/she would like the Committee to consult. After examining the relevant files, the Committee meets to agree on the individuals to be interviewed, taking the requests of the interested parties into account. Normally, no observers are permitted during the interviews.

Where comparative salary information is relevant, the Committee will have access to pertinent statistical material. All information presented to the Committee by Grievant, Respondent or University administration must remain confidential.  

After reviewing the materials and information provided in writing and/or in interviews, the Committee shall issue its written recommendation on the grievance.   The recommendation and the basis for the recommendation will be conveyed to the Dean of the Faculty, with a copy to the Grievant and the Respondent.   The Committee should make every effort to present its written recommendation to the Dean of the Faculty within one month after receipt of the Grievant’s request for a review.  Within ten working days of receiving the written recommendation of the Committee, the Dean of the Faculty should communicate his/her decision to the Grievant.

The decision of the Dean of the Faculty is final and not appealable.

2.0 GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE FOR SETTLING COMPLAINTS CONCERNING THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF WORK, INCLUDING DISMISSAL OR SUSPENSION

This procedure consists of three steps for dealing with grievances.   In the first step, the grievance is presented and discussed with the supervisory hierarchy of the appointing unit (an academic Department or Program, the University Library or the University Art Museum ) with a view to settlement.   In the second step, the response of the unit leader (Department Chair or Program Director, University Librarian or Art Museum director) may be appealed before a group of professional peers.   In the third and final step, the opinion and recommendations resulting from the appeal are reviewed by the Dean of the Faculty and/or the Provost

These three steps, described in detail below, represent three stages of review. Each is designed to settle the grievance quickly, equitably, and without recourse to later steps whenever possible.   The essence of a grievance procedure is the final availability of a judgment outside the unit in which the alleged grievance occurs and this procedure provides for that kind of review.    All interviews and hearings (as described below) relating to a particular grievance are to be discussed only with the principals involved and only under appropriate circumstances.

2.1 Step I: Settlement through discussion

The intention of this step is to encourage the parties concerned to settle the complaint themselves through informal discussion before it becomes a formal grievance. The Grievant shall have an obligation to exhaust opportunities for settlement through discussion with the supervisor’s supervisor and/or others in authority in the appointing unit.   The Grievant or others involved in the discussion may wish to facilitate settlement of the complaint by enlisting the University Ombuds Office to help mediate a settlement.   This step does not require that any written records be kept, except for the final response described below.

A grievance remains in Step I until the Grievant has exhausted opportunities for settlement of the complaint and discussions within the appointing unit have terminated.   A written response to the Grievant should be prepared by the Department Chair or Program Director (for professional staff appointed in academic units), the University Librarian (for professional staff appointed in the University Library) or the museum director (for professional staff appointed in the Art Museum) within five working days of the conclusion of discussions. Normally, the written response will include a statement of the complaint as he/she understands it, the issues involved as he/she sees them and any solution that he/she wishes to propose.   A copy of this response should be sent to the Associate Dean of the Faculty with responsibility for the professional staff.  

If unsatisfied with the outcome, the Grievant may initiate Step II.

2.2 Step II: Appeal Committee

If actions taken under Step I fail to provide a solution satisfactory to the Grievant, he/she may appeal to Step II by submitting in writing to the Associate Dean of the Faculty a full statement of the grievance and of his/her objections to any proposed settlement advanced in Step I.   Such appeal to Step II shall be normally made between five and ten working days after his/her receipt of the written response from the unit head.

The Associate Dean of the Faculty shall be responsible for notifying the Respondent and other persons who have directly participated in the case that a Step II appeal has been made, and for seeing that they each receive a copy of the written material provided by the Grievant in connection with the appeal.   Upon receipt of notification that Step II has been initiated, the Respondent’s supervisor should submit a response to the Associate Dean of the Faculty [within ten working days], including a statement of the complaint as he/she understands it, the issues involved as he/she sees them and any solution that he/she wishes to propose.

The Associate Dean of the Faculty, within ten working days after an appeal is received, shall arrange for a three-person Appeal Committee to be selected from the Library Promotion, Continuing Appointment and Review Committee (PCARC) and/or the Committee on Appointments and Advancements for the Professional Researchers and Professional Specialists and for the first meeting of that Appeal Committee. The method of selection of an Appeal Committee is explained below.

The Appeal Committee must ensure: (a) that the Grievant receives a fair hearing and is afforded ample opportunity to present his/her case directly to the Appeal Committee, (b) that the Grievant and the Respondent are aware of the facts and evidence that have been presented against either of them, and (c) that both parties receive written notification of the findings of the Appeal Committee.

Within fifteen working days after the Appeal Committee's last hearing, it shall report its opinion and recommendations in writing to all parties directly involved in the case, placing a copy of the opinion and recommendations, together with other written documents related to the case, in the confidential Grievance Appeal File maintained in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.   In addition, written communications or information provided from outside the University Community that have been designated as confidential by the source shall be excluded from the file.   Also, interviews and hearings are generally to be considered privileged information to be discussed only with the persons involved in the grievance.   All materials and information collected by the Committee as well as their opinion as filed in the Grievance Appeal File shall be made available to the panel who reviews the case in Step III.

The opinion and recommendations of the Appeal Committee is not binding.   Rather, it provides the parties concerned with an impartial opinion on the merits of the case.  

The Associate Dean of the Faculty shall take up the opinion and recommendations of the Appeal Committee with representatives of the unit(s) concerned and determine what, if any, corrective action will be taken.   He/she will make a written report on the results of such action to the Grievant, the Respondent and the Dean of the Faculty within a month of receipt of the Appeal Committee’s opinion and recommendations.  

2.3 Step III: University Review Panel

If the Grievant is not satisfied with the results of his/her appeal in Step III, he/she may request a review by a University Review Panel made up of the Dean of the Faculty, the Provost and the Librarians’ representative to the CPUC (for the case of grievances of professional librarians), of the Dean of the Faculty, the Provost and the appropriate CPUC representative (for the case of grievances of professional research or technical staff appointed in the Library or the Art Museum) or of the Dean of the Faculty, the Chair of the University Research Board and the appropriate CPUC representative (for the case of professional research or technical staff appointed in academic departments and programs).   The Grievant initiates Step III by submitting a full statement of the grievance and his/her objections to the settlements proposed and adopted under Steps I and II.   Normally, such a request should be made within thirty days after the Grievant has received the written report from the Associate Dean of the Faculty.   The time limit may be waived under special with the agreement of the three individuals who would be hearing the appeal.

The Dean of the Faculty shall officially accept the Grievant’s written request for review of the grievance, provided the request is in accord with procedural requirements and will arrange for the review to be conducted as expeditiously as possible.   Within fifteen days of its last meeting, the Panel shall report its judgment in writing to all parties directly involved in the case.   The Panel shall place a copy of the judgment in the confidential Grievance Appeal File (described in Section 2.2 above) maintained in the Office of the Dean of the Faculty.   The Panel may elect to add to the file any other relevant documents that it deems of possible value in case of further activity relating to the grievance.

2.4 Follow-up

If the grievance procedure has gone into Step II or beyond, the Appeal Committee Chair shall institute a follow-up fact-finding six months after the last report of findings has been made.   The purpose of the fact-finding will be to confirm that any changes that were accepted by the parties concerned have been carried out, both in letter and in spirit, and that those involved in the grievance have not been retaliated against or otherwise treated unfairly because of their involvement.   If the chair finds that agreements have been honored and there has been no retaliation, he/she shall add a written report to that effect to the Grievance Appeal File.   If he/she finds that either of these are not the case, he/she will report this in writing to the Dean of the Faculty, with copies of the report sent to those involved in the action and a copy provided for the Appeal File.

2.5 Method of selection of the Appeal Committee

A three-member Appeal Committee shall be selected from the voting memberships of the Library PCARC and the C/7 as described below.   Because of his/her potential involvement in Step III review, the Chair of the C/7 is not eligible to serve on the Appeal Committee.  

The Grievant and the Respondent each select one member of the Appeal Committee.   Those two jointly select a third eligible member from the C/7 or CCE who will serve as Committee chair.   If a third member of the Appeal Committee cannot be agreed upon, the selection shall be made by the successive striking out of the names of eligible members by alternate decision of two members already selected (starting with the member chosen by the Grievant) until only one name remains.  

Revised: March 12, 2010