Grievance Policy for Postdocs

The Grievance Policy and Resolution Procedure for Postdoctoral Scholars of the University of Alabama at Birmingham is an internal mechanism designed to assure prompt and impartial consideration of complaints that may arise in the workplace. The Dispute Resolution Procedure is available to all Postdoctoral Scholars. UAB Postdoctoral Scholars may use this Procedure without penalty or fear of reprisal.

The Grievance Policy and Dispute Resolution Procedure is a two-step process. A formal grievance may be invoked only after the prospective grievant has first reported the basis for his/her dispute to the Associate Dean for Postdoctoral Education (Associate Dean). The Associate Dean shall have a reasonable opportunity to resolve the dispute informally before a grievance can be initiated. If the Associate Dean's effort to resolve the dispute is unsuccessful, he will notify the Postdoctoral Scholar of his/her right to initiate a formal grievance.

In order to initiate a grievance, a Postdoctoral Scholar must provide a written statement to the Associate Dean in which he/she states specifically the facts believed to support the charge and the desired outcome no later than thirty days following notification from the Associate Dean that a formal grievance may be initiated. After having determined that the facts stated by the Postdoctoral Scholar may be grieved, the Associate Dean shall notify the responding party that a grievance has been filed, shall provide a copy of the charge, and shall allow the responding party five (5) work days in which to provide to the Associate Dean his/her response to the allegation(s) made by the grievant.

Guidelines for assessment and monitoring the performance of Postdoctoral Scholars in all aspects of their position are defined in You and UAB Handbook for Administrative, Professional, and Support Personnel. Guidelines in respect of scientific conduct are defined in the Faculty Handbook and Policies. Both documents can be found at http://www.uab.edu/policies/Pages/default.aspx.

Following receipt of the statement from the responding party, the Associate Dean will select a committee of three faculty members and two postdoctoral fellows to hear the grievance and shall provide to the Committee the written statements of the parties. The faculty members chosen to serve on the Committee shall not have had prior knowledge of the issue(s) grieved. After having chosen one of their number to be chairperson, the Committee shall determine the date of the grievance hearing and shall notify the parties of the date and time of the hearing, which shall not be sooner than five (5) work days from the date notification is sent to the parties by the Committee.

Each party shall be required to provide to the Committee a list of potential supporting witnesses, if any, and a brief statement describing what information each witness has regarding the facts at issue. A witness should be a person with first-hand knowledge of facts pertinent to the resolution of the issue(s) grieved.

The formal grievance hearing shall not be bound by formal rules of evidence or judicial rules of procedure. The Committee may hear any testimony or receive any supporting evidence that it deems to be pertinent to the issue(s) grieved. Both the grievant and the responding party may be present throughout the hearing. The grievant may also be accompanied by an advisor of his/her choosing, however, the advisor may not participate in the hearing, other than to advise the grievant.

The grievant shall be afforded a reasonable opportunity to be heard, to question witnesses indirectly through the Committee, to rebut adverse evidence, and to make a brief closing statement. Members of the Committee may ask any questions at any time during the hearing and may elect to disallow or to curtail testimony that the Committee determines to be unnecessarily redundant or not probative of the issue(s) being heard. Throughout the hearing, all persons present shall conduct themselves in an orderly manner.

The Committee shall be responsible for the conduct of the hearing at all times. Hearings before the Committee are confidential proceeding and only those persons determined by the Committee to have a need to be present shall be included. Except for the grievant, the responding party and the advisor of the grievant, if any, all other witnesses shall be excluded from the hearing room, except when testifying. No more than one witness shall be called to testify at a time.

All questioning of witnesses shall be by the Committee unless the Committee shall decide otherwise. Although the specific procedure for the conduct of the hearing may vary somewhat, the process shall generally include the following: (1) call to order by the Chair; (2) introduction of those present; (3) statement of the issue(s) grieved; (4) presentation of the evidence and testimony in support of the issue(s) grieved; (5) questioning of grievant's witnesses; (6) presentation of evidence and testimony in opposition to the charge; (7) questioning of responding party's witnesses; (8) closing statements.

As soon as practical following the conclusion of the hearing, the Committee shall meet in private session to consider all of the evidence presented, and shall decide on one of two outcomes. The outcome shall be determined by a "preponderance of the evidence" standard, that is, that the facts more likely than not either prove or disprove the issue(s) before the Committee. The decision of the Committee shall be that the issue(s) is either (1) proven by a preponderance of the evidence or (2) not proven by a preponderance of the evidence. Following their deliberations, the Committee shall provide a brief narrative statement explaining its finding(s) and a summary of the supporting facts. The Committee's written decision shall be transmitted to the Associate Dean for appropriate action. The Associate Dean shall notify the grievant and the responding party of the committee's decision and any action to be taken as a result of the Committee's findings.

Upon notification to the grievant of an adverse outcome, the Associate Dean shall also advise the grievant of his/her right to appeal the Committee's decision in writing to the Dean of the Graduate School. An appeal to the Graduate School Dean shall be limited to the presentation of new, previously unavailable evidence, and/or the identification of procedural error in the hearing process.

After a review of any new evidence presented on appeal and a review of the process afforded the grievant, the Graduate School Dean shall notify the grievant, the responding party and the Associate Dean of his/her decision, which shall be final.

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