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Faculty Handbook-Appendix A: Faculty Grievance Procedures

This appendix of the Faculty Handbook describes procedures for faculty grievances.
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Appendix A
Faculty Grievance Procedures

Notes:       “School” refers to any college, school or library in which the grievant has a primary appointment.         
                References to “Provost” may refer to the “Office of the Provost.”

I. Filing a Grievance  

When a faculty member has been unable to obtain a satisfactory solution to a grievance within his or her school, formal grievance procedures may be initiated by the faculty member by filing a written grievance with the Provost. The written grievance (1) should state, in detail, (a) the facts from which the grievance arose, (b) the process followed within the school to resolve the grievance, and (c) the results of the preliminary attempt to solve the problem and (2) should state a specific request for the relief sought. The written grievance must be submitted to the Provost within thirty calendar days after the faculty member has received a written decision from the dean.

Upon receipt of a written grievance, the Provost will review the grievance and shall determine the most appropriate course of action. If it is determined that the grievance involves the evaluation of the professional qualifications of a faculty member, which are most appropriately made by individuals with expertise in the particular academic discipline, the grievance may be sent back to the school or library for final resolution by the dean in consultation with the appropriate faculty committee and chair. In all other cases, the Provost may attempt to resolve the grievance to the mutual satisfaction of the party(ies) involved. If such a resolution is not reached within thirty calendar days, the grievant may request that a Grievance Committee be convened, and the Provost shall proceed to do so. Irrespective of this request, the Provost, on his/her own initiative, may establish a Grievance Committee within the thirty-day period if he/she thinks no resolution will occur via the mediation. The Grievance Committee shall be established by the Provost from the UAB-wide Grievance and Termination Hearing Panel.  

II. The Grievance Committee  

The Grievance Committee shall be appointed by the Provost and shall consist of the next three members of the UAB–wide Grievance and Termination Hearing Panel (see Section 2.10.3) who do not hold primary appointments in the department, school, or library of primary appointment of the grievant. Any appointed member who believes that he or she cannot render an impartial decision concerning the grievance because of personal involvement with any of the party(ies) or with the school or the department and/or division involved shall so state to the Provost within ten calendar days of appointment to the Grievance Committee. The Provost may strike or excuse any individual who has a demonstrable conflict of interest or bias. The Provost will appoint the next panel member in line for service to fill any vacancies.

When three appointments have been obtained, the Provost shall notify the grievant. The grievant shall be allowed to challenge the service by any appointee who, in the opinion of the grievant, cannot consider the grievance impartially. Should the grievant elect to exercise this right, the grievant shall notify the Provost within ten calendar days of the Provost’s notification; and, if the Provost concurs, the challenged member shall be excused.

The Provost will then appoint the next panel member in line for service. This process will continue until a Grievance Committee of three has been established. Neither the Provost nor the grievant may unilaterally strike more than three members except in cases of documented extenuating circumstances. The Provost shall appoint a staff member from the Office of the Provost to serve as secretary to the Grievance Committee.  

III. Participant Responsibilities  

  1. Responsibilities of the Grievance Committee

The responsibilities of the Grievance Committee are (1) to investigate the complaint as presented to the Grievance Committee by the grievant by obtaining appropriate and necessary facts in the dispute and (2) to come to a conclusion as to whether the grievant had good cause to file a grievance. It is the responsibility of the grievant to establish the facts that constitute the basis of his/her grievance, a just cause for action, and his/her entitlement to relief. The Grievance Committee may request that the grievant resubmit the grievance with more specificity if, in the opinion of the Grievance Committee, the nature of the grievance is not clearly defined. The Grievance Committee has the right to exclude any portion of the grievance, which, in its opinion, is more appropriately addressed by another mechanism in the UAB Faculty Handbook and Policies. The Grievance Committee may use any available sources of information deemed by the committee to be probative and relevant to the grievance.

In situations in which the grievance contends discriminatory treatment, the Grievance Committee must come to a conclusion as to whether the policies, procedures, and standards of the involved administrative unit have been applied in a discriminatory manner.

In grievances related to terms of faculty appointment such as promotion, tenure, or non-reappointment, the role of the Grievance Committee is to determine whether fair and consistent procedures have been employed, not whether a person is worthy of promotion, tenure, or re-appointment. During the hearing of a grievance, it sometimes may become necessary to examine the qualifications of a grievant in relation to those of other academic personnel in the grievant’s department, but the Grievance Committee should refrain from making the grievance procedure a review and assessment of the professional qualifications of the grievant as it is not within the scope of any Grievance Committee to make an evaluation of the professional qualifications of the grievant. Such judgment is the responsibility of the appropriate peer group, administrator, and consultants within the concerned department, school or library. Requests for reconsideration of the judgment by a dean that a faculty member should be denied reappointment, promotion, or tenure is handled by the Appeals Process.

  1. Responsibilities of the Grievant

It is the responsibility of the grievant (1) to state his or her grievance with specificity, identifying any accused party(ies) involved, (2) to present all the facts through the presentation of witnesses and documents having relevance to the grievance, and (3) to prove the validity of the grievance.

  1. Responsibility of the Party(ies) against whom the grievance is filed [Accused Party(ies)]

It is the responsibility of the accused party(ies) (1) to supply to the Grievance Committee relevant UAB, school, or departmental documents to which they have access, including documents requested by the grievant but not in his or her possession and those requested by the Grievance Committee and (2) to explain their actions through presentation of witnesses and documents having relevance to the grievance.

IV. Right to Advisor  

The grievant and each accused party may have an advisor present when appearing before the Grievance Committee. The advisors do not participate in the proceedings of the hearing. The grievant and the accused party(ies) shall speak on their own behalf. At all times, the Committee through its chair must maintain control of the meeting.  

V. Grievance Committee Procedure

A.  Preparation for Grievance Hearing  

The first meeting of the Grievance Committee shall be called by the Provost. At the first meeting, the Grievance Committee shall elect its chair and shall be charged with its duties by the Provost. The Committee shall meet to review available written documentation from the grievant and accused party(ies).

The Committee shall request from the grievant and the accused party(ies) a list of proposed witnesses including the information that each witness will provide along with the relevance of each witness’ testimony to the facts of the grievance. UAB will not be responsible for covering travel expenses of witnesses.

The Grievance Committee shall meet with the grievant and charged party(ies) to (1) identify and request documents it deems necessary and relevant to the grievance, (2) determine which witnesses will be called, (3) identify additional witnesses whose testimony should be taken, (4) identify the questions to be raised to the witnesses, and (5) set the date(s) and time(s) for the grievance meeting(s). It will be the responsibility of the grievant and the accused party(ies) to produce their own witnesses, if they are called by the Grievance Committee.

The chair of the Grievance Committee shall notify the grievant, all accused parties, and all called witnesses as to the time(s), date(s), and location(s) of the grievance meetings

B.  The Grievance Hearing

The chair of the Grievance Committee shall preside at the grievance hearing and shall provide rulings relative to procedural issues that are in dispute during the hearing. Any ruling by the chair may be appealed by any party to the whole committee, which shall have, by majority vote, final authority in the matter.

The Grievance hearing shall be confidential, and only those directly involved shall be included in the grievance hearing.

The recommended meeting procedure is as follows:

    1. Opening statement by the grievant
    2. Opening statement by each accused party
    3. Presentation of relevant documents by grievant
    4. Presentation of relevant documents by each accused party
    5. Questioning of witnesses -- Witnesses shall be called in an order determined by the Chair of the Grievance Committee, and questioning shall be conducted exclusively by the members of the Grievance Committee. (The Grievance Committee shall allow each party to submit, in writing, questions which the party would like to have asked of a witness; however, the Grievance Committee will not be required to ask those specific questions.)
    6. Closing statement by each accused party
    7. Closing statement by the grievant.

The Grievance Committee’s assigned secretary shall maintain the verbatim record of the hearing for the convenience and use of the Committee. The assigned secretary will maintain the confidentiality of the hearing materials so as to protect all party(ies) involved. The verbatim record will be maintained by the Office of the Provost for three years following conclusion of the grievance proceeding

C.  The Grievance Committee Report

    Within 30 calendar days after the hearing is concluded, the Grievance Committee shall submit to the Provost a written report summarizing (1) the relevant evidence that has been presented and heard, (2) the conclusions and recommendations it has reached based only on the evidence provided and presented by all parties, and (3) the rationale for its conclusions and recommendations. This report shall be sent to the Provost, with copies to the grievant, the accused parties, and the members of the Grievance Committee.

    VI. Action by Provost

    Based on the conclusions and recommendations of the Grievance Committee, the Provost may pursue additional action to resolve the grievance. Within fifteen working days of receiving the Grievance Committee’s report, the Provost shall provide a written memorandum to the grievant, with copies to the accused parties and the members of the Grievance Committee, describing the Provost’s efforts to resolve this matter and his/her recommendations.

    VII. Final Action

    If the Provost is unable to resolve the grievance within fifteen working days after receiving the Grievance Committee’s report, the grievant may appeal to the UAB President. The Provost shall then forward to the President the committee report along with his or her recommendations. The President shall act within fifteen working days after receiving these materials and, in so doing, shall give considerable weight to the report of the Grievance Committee. The President shall provide a written memorandum to the grievant, with copies to the accused party(ies), the Provost, and the members of the Grievance Committee. Should the President’s action be inconsistent with the report of the Grievance Committee, the President shall state his or her reasons in the memorandum. The decision of the President is final.