Grievance Policy & Procedures for University Staff
University Policy: Human Resources
UNIVERSITY POLICY PDF click here
March 4, 2020
July 1, 2015
Grievance Policy & Procedures for University Staff
Responsible University Official: Vice Chancellor for Administrative Services
Policy Owner: Chief Human Resources Officer
Policy Contact: Human Resources Department
REASON FOR POLICY
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville grievance policy establishes a dispute resolution process for university staff in accord with Wis. Stat. § 36.115(4) and with UW System Administrative / University Personnel System (UPS) Operational Policy 1233.
This policy applies to all University Staff at University of Wisconsin-Platteville, University of Wisconsin-Platteville Baraboo Sauk County and University of Wisconsin-Platteville Richland
The State of Wisconsin authorized and directed the University of Wisconsin System to develop two distinct new personnel systems: one for University of Wisconsin – Madison employees and one for all other UW System employees. Wis. Stat. § 36.115 (2)-(3). All system employees holding positions in the classified or unclassified service of the civil service system under Wis. Stat. Chapter 230 on June 30, 2015, are included in the personnel systems developed under subs. (2)-(3), effective July 1, 2015. The University of Wisconsin – Platteville, as of July 1, 2015, will operate under the University Personnel System (UPS). This policy establishes grievance procedures for university staff who were formerly members of the classified staff (subject to Wis. Stat. Chapter 230) as of June 30, 2015, and for university staff hired on or after July 1, 2015, who by the terms of their appointment, have an expectation of continued employment.
Dismissal: separation from employment for disciplinary or performance reasons.
Discipline: any action taken with respect to a university staff member with an expectation of continued employment which has the effect, in whole, or in part, of a penalty.
Grievance procedure: the process through which certain working conditions, discipline or dismissal of a university staff member with an expectation of continued employment can be appealed.
Impartial Hearing Officer: a grievance review committee established through shared governance, an arbitrator employed by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC), arbitrator from the WERC roster of neutral decision-makers not employed by the WERC, or an arbitrator from a roster of arbitrators with a set fee developed by UW System Administration for the resolution of a discharge case.
Just Cause: a standard that is applied to determine the appropriateness of a disciplinary action. The elements of determining whether just cause exists are:
- Whether the employee had notice of workplace expectations and potential consequences if those expectations were not met;
- Whether the workplace expectations were reasonably related to business efficiency and performance the employer might reasonably expect from the employee;
- Whether an investigation was undertaken by the employer before discipline or discharge to determine whether the employee violated expectations;
- Whether the investigation was conducted fairly and objectively;
- Whether the employer obtained substantial evidence of the employee’s guilt;
- Whether workplace expectations were applied fairly and without discrimination; and
- Whether the degree of discipline imposed reasonably related to the seriousness of the employee’s offense and the employee’s past record.
Layoff: separation from employment for reasons of budget or due to the discontinuance, curtailment, modification, or redirection of a program.
University staff: the university workforce who contribute in a broad array of positions in support of the University’s mission and who are not exempt (hourly) from the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
This policy provides the grievance procedures for university staff with an expectation of continued employment appealing certain working conditions, discipline, layoff or dismissal. University staff serving a probationary period will not have the right to file grievances on dismissal, discipline or layoff. Discipline and dismissal of a university staff member with an expectation of continued employment may be imposed only for just cause. Grievances shall be submitted in writing, and each grievance shall describe the facts upon which the grievance is based and the relief sought by the employee. Parties are strongly encouraged to seek resolution through informal discussion with their immediate supervisor prior to a grievance being filed. If the discussion does not resolve the matter, an employee may file a formal grievance following the Procedures set forth herein. Upon filing, parties are encouraged to resolve grievances at early stages of grievance procedures. UW System institutions are prohibited from retaliating against a grievant for filing a grievance or against a representative or witness who participates, or is scheduled to participate, in grievance proceedings.
Employees may not file a grievance regarding the following:
a. Verbal; warning or verbal reprimand;
b. Termination of a temporary employment appointment;
c. Release from probation;
d. Performance evaluations;
e. Claims of unlawful actions, including, but not limited to, discrimination and/or harassment, may not be grieved through this process. These should be submitted to the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Human
Resources office and/or to the appropriate state or federal agency.
f. Activities falling under management rights including but are not limited to:
- Utilizing personnel, methods, and mean in the most appropriate and efficient manner possible to carry out the mission of the university as determined by management;
- Managing and directing university employees;
- Determining the size and composition of the work force;
- Hiring, promoting, assigning or retaining employees; or
- Establishing reasonable workplace expectation; and/or
- Determining the content of written policies and procedures.
University staff employees have the right to representation at any meeting if an employee reasonably believes that the meeting could lead to discipline.
Grievances shall be pursued in accordance with the following steps and time limits:
|| Step 1
||Step 2 A and B
A. Step 1
If attempts to resolve a matter through discussion between an employee and supervisor are not successful, a grievance may be filed. Grievances shall be filed with the employee’s department head, director, dean, equivalent administrator, or with the Director of Human Resources no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the date the grievant first became aware or should have become aware (with the exercise of reasonable diligence), of the matter grieved. As soon as practicable, but no later than thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the written grievance, the individual with whom the grievance is filed shall meet with the grievant to hear the grievance. The grievant shall receive a written decision no later than seven (7) calendar days after this meeting. If the subject of the grievance is not discipline or layoff, there will be no further opportunity for appeal.
B. Step Two A (Standard Procedure)
When an employee has filed a grievance alleging that a disciplinary decision was not based on just cause and is dissatisfied with the Step One decision, the employee may appeal the decision to an impartial hearing officer. In order to file such an appeal, the grievant must inform the individual who wrote the Step One response of his or her desire to appeal the Step One decision within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the answer in Step One. An appeal of dismissal of a university staff member will begin at Step Two and must be filed within twenty (20) days of the date of written notice of dismissal.
At issue before the impartial hearing officer will be whether just cause for the discipline or discharge exists. If the subject of the appeal is layoff, the issue before the hearing officer will be whether the applicable layoff procedure was followed. The impartial hearing officer may refuse to hear a grievance for lack of timeliness or because the grievance involves a non-grievable issue.
The hearing officer will be charged with hearing the case within thirty (30) calendar days of the filing and making a report and recommendations to the chancellor or chancellor’s designee within fourteen (14) calendar days. Such a hearing for a university staff employee shall include a right to representation, a right to offer witnesses, and a right to a written decision. The hearing shall be closed unless the grievant requests an open hearing. Hearings may be recorded.
Within twenty (20) calendar days of receipt of the report and recommendations, the chancellor or chancellor’s designee shall release a statement accepting or rejecting the findings of the impartial hearing officer and explaining how the recommendations will be implemented. The deadlines may be extended by mutual agreement.
C. Step Two B - Direct Appeal to WERC for University Staff hired before July 1, 2015
An employee who held permanent status in employment prior to July 1, 2015 and according to the provisions of Wis. Stat. § 36.115(6)
, therefore retains Chapter 230
appeal rights may instead appeal a disciplinary action (suspension, demotion, or reduction in base pay), layoff or discharge using a different procedure instead of procedure Step Two A. Such a grievance may be appealed directly from Step One to the chancellor or chancellor’s designee within ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the answer in Step One. The chancellor or chancellor’s designee will meet with the grievant to hear the grievance within thirty (30) days of the filing and will provide a written determination within fourteen (14) calendar days of the hearing. The deadlines may be extended by mutual agreement. The university staff employee shall have the right to representation and a right to offer witnesses. The meeting shall be closed unless the grievant requests an open meeting.
Thereafter, if the employee is still dissatisfied with the decision as issued by the chancellor or chancellor’s designee, the employee may appeal the decision to the WERC under Wis. Stat. § 230.44(1)(c)
) within thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the decision being appealed. If an appeal to WERC is filed, no further steps in the grievance process will apply. The decision of the WERC may be subject to judicial review, but an appeal to the Board of Regents is not available using this procedure.
University staff hired before July 1, 2015 may choose either Step Two A or Step Two B. They cannot choose both.
D. Step Three - Board of Regents Review
For matters that involve dismissal only, a grievant who is dissatisfied with a chancellor’s or chancellor’s designee’s Step Two A decision may appeal the decision to the Board of Regents. If the matter is not appealed to the Board of Regents within thirty (30) calendar days of the statement accepting or rejecting the findings of the impartial hearing officer, the grievance will be considered ineligible for Board review. Upon receiving an appeal, the President of the Board shall refer the appeal to the Board of Regents Personnel Matters Review Committee. In accordance with Board of Regents Bylaws, the Committee shall conduct a review based on the record of the matter created by the impartial hearing officer, chancellor or chancellor’s designee, and it shall prepare recommended findings and a decision, and shall transmit them to the full Board for final action. The full Board may confirm the Committee’s decision, or it may direct a different decision. A written decision will be provided by the Board of Regents. No further appeal shall be available to the parties.
If the employer fails to observe any grievance procedure time limits, a grievance that is eligible to be appealed to a higher step will be automatically appealed. If an employee fails to observe any grievance procedure time limits, the grievance will be considered to be resolved. Time limits may be extended only by mutual agreement between the grievant and a University of Wisconsin – Platteville management designee.
Grievances shall be submitted on a form provided by the University, and each grievance shall describe the facts upon which the grievance is based and the relief sought by the employee. With the consent of the employee, a representative may file a grievance on behalf of the grievant; the grievance must be signed by the grievant. If it is a group grievance, a spokesperson must be named who will communicate on behalf of the group; the grievance must be signed by the other grievants.
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville is prohibited from granting relief that is retroactive beyond thirty (30) days immediately preceding the filing of the grievance at the first step. No financial award may be ordered for any employee beyond actual back pay and/or benefits actually lost.
Selection Process for Impartial Hearing Officer
Except where otherwise prohibited, the employee filing the grievance shall be permitted to select one of the following options for their “Impartial Hearing Officer” (IHO):
1. A panel consisting of at least two (2), but no more than five (5) university staff members recruited by the University Staff Senate as established through Senate Bylaws;
a. The University Staff Grievance Committee will take necessary precautions to avoid conflict of interest in the grievance process. The employee will be notified of the grievance panel membership. If there are any conflicts of interest, the employee should contact the Chief Human Resources Officer. No panel member shall be from the same department as the grievant.
b. Human Resources and/or UW System Legal will provide training to the university staff members who serve on the grievance panel.
2. An arbitrator employed by the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC) for those employed prior to July 1, 2015;
3. An arbitrator from the WERC roster of neutral hearing officers not employed by WERC; or,
4. In dismissal cases only, an arbitrator from the roster of neutral hearing officers maintained by UW-System
Any impartial hearing officer fees or costs shall be split equally between the University and the grievant. In the event the employee prevails, the University shall pay the entire fee.
Position/Office: Human Resources Department and University Staff Senate
Responsibilities: The Human Resources Department has the responsibility to consistently manage the implementation of this Policy for all affected employees. The University Staff Senate has a responsibility to assemble a University Staff hearing panel.
Those designated to receive questions and feedback on the policy.
A pdf of this policy is available here.
Initial Effective Date: July 1, 2015
Former Policy titled “Impartial Hearing Officer Selection Process Pursuant to the University Staff Grievance Policy and Procedure” effective July 1, 2015 has been archived. The content of this policy has been integrated into the revised “Grievance Policy & Procedures for University Staff” effective November 2019.
This policy was reviewed with University Staff Senate on October 8 and 22, 2019, and was approved by the University Staff Senate on November 12, 2019.
March 4, 2020: Minor updates in section, "Selection Process for Impartial Hearing Officer" approved by University Staff Senate on February 25, 2020.