The Grievance Committee at Georgia Highlands College shall be known as the Grievance Committee.
The Grievance Committee was established to provide a means to hear the complaints of College employees (faculty members including part-time faculty and classified personnel) who have exhausted normal channels of appeal but who have not received satisfaction in the resolution of a grievance. Normal channels shall be construed to mean an appeal to administrative officers, through and including at least one level of authority higher than the employee’s immediate supervisor, to satisfactorily resolve the grievance.
III. SELECTION OF COMMITTEE (Sept. 1 - Aug. 31)
The Grievance Committee shall consist of eight faculty members elected by the entire faculty and seven staff members elected by the classified employees from their ranks in September of each year. The term of each member is one year, and they are eligible to succeed themselves.
IV. SELECTION OF CHAIR
All members of the Committee shall elect the Chair, who shall be a member of the Faculty.
The Grievance Committee shall consider and act upon all grievances filed by faculty or staff member except grievances related to salary, promotion, tenure, dismissal, and non-renewal of employment status unless it is reasonably alleged that the action in dispute was as a result of discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, creed, national origin, handicap or age. The Committee shall not consider any grievance upon which the President has made a final decision.
VI. INITIATION OF GRIEVANCE
A. Request for Hearing
Any employee (grievant), within thirty (30) days after the occurrence of the alleged act causing the grievance, may file a written request for a hearing with the Chair of the Grievance Committee describing the grievance and stating:
1. The actions alleged, including the pertinent facts of the complaint, the date, time and place of the occurrence, the College policies believed to have been violated or improperly applied. The complaint shall be verified and sworn to by the employee.
2. The names of possible witnesses, if any, and a description of the evidence, which is intended to support the complaint.
3. The specified corrective action desired.
The Chair of the Grievance Committee, within three (3) days of the filing of the application for a hearing by the grievant, shall determine whether the grievance is one which has been properly and timely filed, and whether the nature of the grievance is one which may be properly heard by the Grievance Committee. If so, the Chair will instruct the parties as to the procedures to be followed. If not, the Chair will notify the parties and the President of his or her determination and provide the supporting explanation. The President may, nevertheless, direct that the Grievance Committee hear the grievance.
VII. HEARING PANEL
A. Selection of Hearing Panel
If the Chair determines that the grievance falls within the jurisdiction of the Grievance Committee, he shall, within ten days following receipt of the grievance, select an appropriate hearing panel of not less than three nor more than five members in addition to the Chair. The Chair shall select faculty members of the Committee to hear grievances involving only faculty members. Likewise, he or she shall select Staff members of the Committee to hear grievances involving Staff members. For grievances involving faculty members and classified employees, both faculty and classified employees must be chosen for the hearing panel. Before the hearing panel selected by the Chair can function, the Human Resources Director or the Affirmative Action Officer at the College must certify to the President that the hearing panel is acceptable.
B. Excusing Hearing Panel Members
The Chair may excuse hearing panel members if he or she determines that there is a conflict of interest, illness, or other good cause.
C. Removing Hearing Panel Members for Cause
A party may present a request in writing, at least three days in advance of any hearing, to the Chair to remove any member of the hearing panel for reasonable cause. If the Chair grants the request, he or she may appoint another member to fill the vacancy thus created. The Chair may, on his or her own motion, remove any member for reasonable cause stated.
D. Notice of Hearing
After the hearing panel has been selected, written notice of the date and time set for the hearing shall be hand-delivered or mailed to the parties, and to the members of the hearing committee, by the Chair, no less than three or more than ten working days in advance of the date set for the hearing.
VIII. HEARING PROCEDURE
The following procedures shall apply to panel hearings:
1.The hearing will be conducted in private; however, the parties may select one person to attend as an observer.
2.Attorneys are not authorized to participate in grievance hearings; however, the grievant may select an advisor, other than an attorney, from the College to assist him.
3.A tape recording, transcript or written summary of the proceedings shall be kept and made available to the parties concerned at reasonable cost.
4.The parties involved shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to present necessary witnesses and to offer evidence.
5.The parties involved will have the right to cross-examine all witnesses. Should a witness be unable to appear because of illness or other cause acceptable to the Chair, the sworn statement (affidavit) of the witness may be introduced into the record.
6.The hearing shall be investigative in nature and shall not be viewed as or conducted under the rules of evidence or procedures applicable to evidentiary or adversarial hearings. The hearing panel may receive any evidence deemed by the Chair to be of potential value in determining the issues involved. The Chair shall decide all questions of the admissibility of evidence or other procedural matters.
7.All persons involved should avoid Public statements and publicity about the hearing process.
8.The panel should complete the hearing and transmit its recommendations to the President within thirty days after the grievance is filed.
IX. RESULTS OF THE HEARING
The panel should complete its report within thirty (30) days after the grievance is filed. The Chair should send copies of the report to the President, the grievant, and his direct supervisor. The panel may send confidential recommendations to the President, which shall be advisory only, and shall in no way commit him to any suggested course of action.
X. ACTION OF THE PRESIDENT
In making his decision, the President will not be bound by the findings or confidential recommendation(s) (if any) of the Grievance Committee. The President should, within ten (10) class days after the receipt of such written notification of the findings and confidential recommendation(s) (if any) of the Grievance Committee, advise the faculty member or staff member, his direct supervisor, and other parties concerned in writing of his decision, or he may refer the matter back to the Chair of the Grievance Committee for further response and recommendation(s) before rendering his final decision. The employee should also be advised by the President in writing of his right to appeal to the Board of Regents for review of the President’s decision in accordance with the Provisions of The Policy Manual of the Board of Regents.
XI. PROHIBITION OF RETALIATORY ACTION
No participant shall be harassed, intimidated, or otherwise penalized for involvement in the grievance procedures.