Grievance Procedures

Office of Postdoctoral Affairs
University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) 

Definition
Postdoctoral scholars include persons with appointments as either postdoctoral research associate or postdoctoral fellow.  A postdoctoral scholar who believes that he/she has been subjected to improper or unreasonable decision by the UNMC or anyone acting officially on behalf of the UNMC, may file a grievance to obtain an independent review of the decision, and, if appropriate, corrective action. A formal grievance constitutes a written complaint made to an administrative officer of the university concerning such a decision.

Retaliation
Any act of retaliation but not limited to, interference, restraints, penalty, discrimination, coercion, or harassment, overtly or covertly, against an employee for using the grievance procedure interferes with the integrity of the grievance procedure.  Accordingly, anyone who commits an act of retaliation against anyone involved in the grievance procedure subjects himself or herself to appropriate corrective actions. 

Procedure
The grievance resolution procedure is a two-step process where in the first step the dispute is resolved informally with the intervention of the Director/Associate Dean for the Office of Postdoctoral Education. If the grievance is not resolved to the Grievant’s satisfaction then the process of filing a formal grievance will be initiated upon the Grievant’s request.

No adverse action may be taken against the postdoctoral scholar for his/her legitimate use of the grievance procedure. At any point in the grievance process, formal proceedings can be put aside in favor for voluntary mediation. For this to occur, both parties to the dispute must agree to participate in mediation.

The following are the steps in the Grievance Resolution Procedure

  1. The Grievant first reports the basis for his/her dispute, written or orally, to the Director/Associate Dean of the Office of Postdoctoral Education and the Director/Associate Dean shall have a reasonable opportunity to resolve the dispute informally. He/she will inform the Responder of the complaint and give the option to both parties for mutual resolution of the complaints with the Director/Associate Dean acting as an intermediary or through the UNMC Ombudsperson’s Office.
  2. If Director/Associate Dean’s effort to resolve the dispute informally is unsuccessful, he/she will notify the Postdoctoral Scholar of his/her right to initiate a formal grievance by providing a written statement to the Director/Associate Dean.
  3. After having determined that the facts stated by the Postdoctoral Scholar may be grieved, the Director/Associate Dean shall notify the Respondent to provide response to the complaint(s) within 5 working days.
  4. Following the receipt of the statement from the Respondent, the Director/Associate Dean will select a committee of 3 faculty and 2 postdoctoral scholars who have no prior knowledge of the dispute/grievance.
  5. The Grievance Committee should chose a chairperson and then notify the Grievant and Respondent of the date and time of hearing, no sooner than five working days from the notification.
  6. Each party can provide supporting witnesses, if any, provided a brief statement describing what information each witness has regarding the grievance has been submitted to the committee. Only those witnesses will be considered whom the committee deems has the first hand knowledge of the facts related to the resolution of the issue(s) grieved.
  7. The Grievant may be accompanied by an advisor of his/her choosing who will afford moral support and act as an observer/advisor. The advisor may not participate in the hearing.  The Director/Assistant Director should be informed who will be attending by the Grievant, prior to the hearing.
  8. The hearing will be confidential and only those persons whose presence determined to be necessary by the committee will be present during the hearing. The Grievant, the Grievant’s advisor, if any, and the Respondent may be present throughout the hearing. A witness will be included in the hearing only when testifying. No more than one witness will be called to testify at a time. All questioning of a witness will be by the committee, unless the committee decides otherwise.
  9. The Grievant will be given reasonable time and opportunity to present the grievance, to rebut adverse evidence and present a closing statement. Similar opportunity will be afforded to the respondent.
  10. The hearing procedure should include the following:
    1. Call to order by the Chair
    2. Introduction of those present
    3. Statement of the issues grieved
    4. Presentation of evidence and testimony in support of the issues grieved
    5. Questioning of the Grievant’s witnesses
    6. Presentation of evidence and testimony by the Respondent
    7. Questioning of the Respondent’s witnesses
    8. Closing statements
  11. The committee will meet in private and provide a brief narrative statement explaining its findings and a summary of the supporting facts. The committee’s written decision shall be transmitted to the Director/Associate Dean.
  12. The Director/Associate Dean will notify the Grievant and Respondent of the committee’s decision and any action to be taken as a result of the committee’s finding.
  13. The Director/Associate Dean should inform the Grievant of his/her right to appeal to the Dean of the Graduate School in case of an adverse outcome or dissatisfaction. An appeal to the Dean will be limited to the presentation of new, previously unavailable evidence and/or identification of procedural error in the hearing process. The decision of the Dean will be final.

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