P18: Academic Professional Grievance Procedures

Effective Date: November 16, 1987

Revised Date: October 15, 2019

Initiating a Grievance

A person with a grievance must contact an ombudsperson within 30 days of when the grievable action occurred (please see definition of "day" in ACD 002), so that the ombudsperson can seek to clarify the issues, to identify the relevant university policies, and to mediate between the affected parties. 

If the issue involves discrimination, the ombudsperson will refer the grievant to the Office of University Rights and Responsibilities. 

If an issue is otherwise ineligible for intervention by the ombudsperson (see ACD 509-01), the ombudsperson will advise that the grievance should be filed with the the Academic Professional Grievance Committee (APGC), will provide materials, and will clarify the process of filing a formal grievance. 

If the grievant does not wish to seek mediation and does wish to file a grievance; or it the ombudsperson cannot resolve the dispute, and the grievant wishes to pursue further action, the ombudsperson will present the grievant with a Grievance Form and clarify the process of filing a grievance.

Within 30 days of receipt of the ombudsperson’s report or within 30 days of the occurrence of the actions which formed the basis of the grievance, the grievant shall file a written grievance and request for a formal hearing to the APGC. Written requests should be marked confidential and sent to the Chair of Academic Professional Grievance Committee, University Senate Office (mail code 1703). The grievance must be filed by the grievant by hand delivery or by certified mail, return receipt requested, with the chair of the Academic Professional Grievance Committee at the University Senate Office address and shall include a Grievance form which, at a minimum states: grievant's name, address, telephone number, a statement of the complaint, remedies sought, and the name and address of the grievant's attorney, or that grievant is proceeding without an attorney.

If the grievance claims unlawful discrimination, in employment, program, or activity based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, disability, or Vietnam-era or other protected veteran status, the Grievance Clearinghouse Committee ombudsperson shall direct the grievant to the Office of University Rights and Responsibilities. This office shall investigate claims of discrimination and inform the grievant and relevant university officials of its findings. 

If its findings do not support the grievant, the grievant may appeal to the APGC. The Office of University Rights and Responsibilities shall also advise the grievant of relevant statutes of limitation that would affect his or her ability to file for a hearing outside the university. Specifically, in the case of discrimination, that the grievant must file a complaint with the Arizona Civil Rights Division, U.S. Dept. of Education Office of Civil Rights, or the U.S. Dept. of Labor within 180 days of the occurrence of the action complained of. He or she has 300 days from the date of occurrence to file with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Hearing Committee

  1. It is the chair’s responsibility to ensure that the grievance will be heard by a quorum of the APGC (a minimum of three members). Only members who hear all evidence in a hearing shall participate in the final deliberations and decisions; this constitutes the hearing committee. If the APGC chair is unable to serve on the hearing committee, another member shall perform the duties of the chair identified in this procedure.
  2. Either grievant or respondent may challenge a member of the APGC for bias or prejudice by filing a written justification with the chair of the committee. All challenges of committee members must be made no later than 20 days prior to hearing date.
  3. The chair may excuse any member of the committee for cause at his or her discretion at any time.

Timelines and Steps of Hearing Process

  1. Within seven days after receiving the grievance, the chair of the committee shall forward the complaint to the respondent with instructions to respond within 15 days of receiving the complaint. The response shall contain: name, address, telephone number of respondent; a brief statement of respondent’s position; name and address of respondent’s attorney if grievant is elects to be represented by an attorney. The respondent is not obligated to have an attorney. 
  2. The chair shall notify both the grievant and respondent of the names of the members of the committee at the time the complaint is forwarded to the respondent.
  3. The chair of the committee shall establish a hearing date in conjunction with all parties involved in the case. The hearing should begin within 60 days of the date of the original request. The chair may extend any timelines stated in these procedures for good cause.
  4. The parties shall receive notice of the hearing date at least 20 days before the hearing date.
  5. The grievant shall be advised by the chair of the committee to consider filing charges with an outside agency if the deadline to file may pass pending the outcome of the internal process. If a grievant commences a grievance with an outside agency based on the same or other grounds, the internal grievance will continue unless the grievant desires to postpone the hearing process or withdraw the internal grievance. The ASU Office of General Counsel will handle complaints filed with outside agencies.
  6. No later than 15 days before the hearing date the grievant and respondent will submit the number of copies specified by the chair of the complete written documentation of the grievance and a list of witnesses to the chair of the committee. Grievant and respondent will index and number exhibits, G-1, 2 . . ., and R-1, 2 . . ., respectively.
  7. The chair shall send copies of the documentation and witness lists submitted by the grievant and the respondent to each other and to the committee members within three days after receipt.
  8. The chair may require witnesses upon request of either party or on the chair’s own initiative. The chair may also require the production of books, records, and other evidence. Request shall be made either by email, or personal delivery, or by mailing certified mail, return receipt requested, as determined by the chair. In the interest of fair treatment, it is expected that any member of the university community called to testify shall testify and any university community member or university office that has access to relevant documents will produce them to a requesting party or the committee. In the event such cooperation is not forthcoming, the hearing chair has subpoena power to do one or more of the following:
    1. compel the attendance and testimony of witnesses called by the parties or the hearing committee who refuse to appear without a subpoena
    2. compel either party to produce relevant documents if a party refuses to do so without a subpoena
    3. compel a university office/representative who is in possession of relevant documents desired by a party or the hearing committee to produce such documents to the hearing committee, if the office/representative refuses to do so without a subpoena. The chair may request a subpoena form from the Office of General Counsel. If a party needs a subpoena, the party will request a subpoena form from the hearing chair, complete the form, and submit it to the chair for signature. The party will then give the signed subpoena to the appropriate witness or university representative. The chair may also serve subpoenas on the chair's initiative.  
  9. Each party or counsel may present an opening statement of his or her position. Generally, the grievant or counsel will then present all of his or her witnesses and documents, except for cases involving discipline; in a discipline case, the respondent will proceed first.
  10. The committee members may question the witnesses and ask questions about documents presented. The respondent or counsel may question the grievant. After the grievant has presented his or her case, the respondent or counsel shall have an opportunity to present witnesses and documents, and the committee members may question the witnesses and ask questions about documents presented. The grievant or counsel may question the respondent. The members of the committee may question the parties throughout the hearing.
  11.  The chair will rule on all objections. The ruling may be made at the time of the objection or at a later time, but the parties will be notified of the ruling.
  12. The respondent will make a closing statement followed by a closing statement by the grievant. No new issue or evidence shall be introduced in the closing statement.
  13. At the conclusion of the hearing, the parties and their counsel and witnesses will be excused. The committee will discuss the evidence in executive session. The committee has the right to seek information to further clarify issues presented by the parties. If new evidence is discovered and/or further clarification is needed, the chair may reconvene the parties and the committee, if deemed appropriate. After discussions have been completed, a secret ballot (or ballots) will be held with a majority vote being the committee decision. The vote will not be published.
  14. The committee may determine that it is prepared to render a recommendation immediately following the hearing; however, the committee has up to 30 days to deliberate and to provide a written recommendation. A written report of facts, findings, and recommendations will be prepared by the committee and provided to the provost of the university.
  15. The provost of the university will provide a written decision to the grievant, respondent, and the committee members within 45 days after receipt of the committee recommendation. If the provost of the university cannot issue the decision within this period, the parties will be notified in writing within this period of the delay and the date on which the decision can be expected.
  16. The decision of the provost of the university is the final decision. Any further recourse must be sought through a request for reconsideration or with forums outside the university.

Hearing Rules

  1. The hearing is not a trial. Court rules do not apply and the hearing officer may exclude information which is deemed irrelevant or unnecessarily repetitive. The hearing shall be conducted in a fair, impartial, thorough, and timely manner.
  2. The chair may grant a continuance to either grievant or respondent. If grievant fails to gain a continuance and fails to appear at the hearing after due notice, the grievance may be dismissed. If the respondent fails to gain a continuance and fails to appear at the hearing after due notice, the hearing may proceed at the discretion of the chair. A grievant may withdraw his/her grievance at any stage in the grievance procedure by giving a written notice of withdrawal to the chair of the committee.
  3. Either party may have the advice of legal counsel prior to the hearing. For the presentation to the committee, the grievant may elect one of the following options; the respondent must use the same or lesser level of assistance selected by the grievant:
    1. The grievant may proceed without legal counsel or non-legal adviser at the hearing.
    2. The grievant may be accompanied by legal counsel or non-legal adviser who will act as an advisor during the hearing. The grievant will be responsible for presenting the case (witnesses, exhibits, and statements) and the counsel or adviser may advise the grievant.
    3. The grievant may be represented by legal counsel or non-legal adviser at the hearing; counsel may present statements, question witnesses called by both parties and present documents. Regardless of which option the grievant elects, the committee has the right to speak to the parties and witnesses during the hearing, including the right to question and to receive responses from the parties and witnesses directly. If neither party is advised or represented by counsel and the university general counsel has not been involved in the case on behalf of either party, the university general counsel may provide advice to the committee and/or committee chair; however, legal advice is limited to procedural, not substantive, issues related to the case. If the grievant has counsel, generally, an attorney in the university Office of General Counsel will advise the respondent. In order to avoid a potential conflict of interest, the university general counsel will not advise the committee or chair; rather, the Office of General Counsel will secure an outside counsel for advice if such assistance is desired.
  4. The parties shall arrive at the hearing with all materials necessary to complete their presentations. Parties do not have the right to delay without good cause, or obstruct the proceedings. However, in light of new information, either party may request a recess from the chair. If in the judgment of the chair, a hearing produces information or charges requiring additional time for response by either party, the   chair may halt the hearing, and continue it at a later date. Any committee member may call for executive session at any time if discussion is believed necessary.
  5. The hearing is to be held in closed session unless otherwise requested by the grievant. Attendance at the hearing will be restricted to the grievant, respondent, their counsels, and the committee members. Witnesses will be excluded from the hearing except while testifying, unless their presence is mutually agreed to by the parties. Generally, the committee will allow all witnesses to testify and documents to be presented which are related to the complaint or the response.
  6. The chair will maintain order, rule on matters of order and procedure, and ask for clarification or relevance from the parties. The burden of proof that the respondent failed to follow written policy or procedures is on the grievant. 
  7. The committee is not bound by rules of evidence applicable to courts of law, but may permit evidence determined by the committee to be prudent for the conduct of the hearing and for arrival at an informed decision.
  8. Unless overriding reasons are given to the grievant, respondent or their counsel, all parties shall have access to all information that is presented to the hearing committee at no expense to them, with the exception of the cost of obtaining a transcript of the hearing. Hearings shall be recorded digitally, on tape, or by a Court Reporter. A copy of the recording will be made available to the parties on request at their own cost. If a party desires recording by a court reporter, the party is responsible for selecting, scheduling, and paying the Court Reporter's fee. The deliberations of the committee will not be recorded.
  9. All recordings of proceedings, written documentation, and decisions relating to the grievance will be filed with the University Senate office.

Request for Reconsideration of Provost of the University’s Decision

The grievant who is dissatisfied with the decision of the provost of the university may request reconsideration by filing a written request with the provost of the university no later than 21 days following the receipt of the written decision. The request shall be based on one or more of the following grounds:

    1. irregularities in the proceedings, including but not limited to any abuse of discretion or misconduct by the chair and/or committee which has deprived the employee of a fair and impartial process
    2. newly discovered material evidence, which could not have been available for the presentation
    3. the decision is not justified by the evidence or is contrary to law
    4. the severity of the sanction.

Following receipt of the request for reconsideration, the provost of the university shall conduct whatever reconsideration is deemed necessary to resolve the issues that have been raised. The provost of the university will provide a written response to the request to all parties within 30 days of receipt of the grievant’s request. The decision following reconsideration is final.

To pursue the case outside the university, the employee must file a legal action in Maricopa County Superior Court in accordance with Arizona Revised Statutes § 12–901, et seq.  Some types of legal complaints must be filed in court within a short time, 35 calendar days (as defined by the court, not ACD 002), after receipt of the provost of the university decision.

For information concerning academic professional grievances, see ACD 509-03, "Grievance Policy for Academic Professionals;" and Mediation Services Forms.