Grievance Procedures for Non-Faculty Academic Appointees

(revised 8/20/2013) 

The Harvard School of Public Health has established the following mechanism by which serious grievances brought by non-faculty academic appointees* may be resolved promptly and equitably. The following procedures should be used by non-faculty academic appointees for the resolution of grievances alleging unfair action on the part of the university administration or faculty, including discrimination on the basis of race, color, religious belief, political beliefs, sex (including sexual harassment), national or ethnic origin, handicap, age, or sexual orientation.

Informal Resolution of Grievances

A non-faculty academic appointee with a grievance should initially take the matter to one of the following people: his/her faculty supervisor/mentor, department chair, assistant dean for faculty affairs, senior associate dean for academic affairs, Longwood Campus ombudsperson, or other appropriate faculty member or administrator. If the grievance cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the non-faculty academic appointee and the initial faculty/administration contact in consultation with other interested or involved parties, the non-faculty academic appointee may, at his/her discretion, seek resolution via the formal procedure outlined below. The person investigating the grievance shall, at the request of the non-faculty academic appointee, make a written report available to the ad hoc grievance committee in the event that a resolution is not possible in the informal phase.

Formal Grievance Procedure

An aggrieved non-faculty academic appointee may request resolution of the grievance by initiating the following formal procedure.

1) A formal grievance is a complaint in writing from the non-faculty academic appointee to the assistant dean for faculty affairs, asking that an ad hoc grievance committee be appointed. (In the event that the complaint is against the assistant dean for faculty affairs, the written complaint is sent to the senior associate dean for academic affairs.) The written complaint should be filed within two months of the event to which it refers and should include the following, as appropriate:

a) Statement of the allegation
b) Description of the alleged facts
c) Summary of steps the grievant already has taken in an attempt to resolve the problem
d) Name/s of the person/s thought to be responsible for the alleged events
e) Other facts considered to be pertinent to the case
f) Signature of the person initiating the complaint

2) The assistant dean for faculty affairs appoints an ad hoc grievance committee consisting of a representative of the Faculty Council, at least one member of the school’s administration, and a non-faculty academic appointee, normally holding the same type of appointment as the individual filing the complaint. This ad hoc grievance committee is appointed and convened as quickly as possible, normally within ten working days of receipt by the assistant dean for faculty affairs of the written complaint, or sooner if immediate action is required. In all cases, confidentiality is maintained during the selection and appointment process. A quorum requires that all members be present. The assistant dean for faculty affairs appoints the chairperson of the committee.

3) The ad hoc grievance committee investigates the grievance. This investigation includes, but need not be limited to:

a) Meeting/s with the person aggrieved and the person/s (or representatives of the department) grieved against.
b) Consultation with such others as the ad hoc grievance committee deems necessary to provide a thorough investigation of the grievance, including scientific ramifications or concerns, and other mitigating or extenuating circumstances that bear upon the situation.

4) The ad hoc grievance committee expeditiously considers the facts of the case and presents a written report to the senior associate dean for academic affairs. The report includes findings of facts and recommendations, if any. Every precaution is taken to ensure the confidentiality of information obtained at meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee. The committee also makes every effort to conclude the investigation promptly and to take any needed remedial action.

5) Upon receipt of the report from the ad hoc grievance committee, the senior associate dean for academic affairs may:

a) Take whatever action he feels is warranted, using the report of the ad hoc grievance committee as advisory information.
b) Return the matter to the ad hoc grievance committee for further consideration. This action returns the grievance to Step 3 of this procedure.

6) The final action of the senior associate dean for academic affairs constitutes the formal completion of the grievance procedure. The ad hoc grievance committee is then discharged. The final action is communicated to both the person aggrieved and the person/s (or department) grieved against. Once the procedure is completed, all records of the meetings of the ad hoc grievance committee and the final report of the committee remain in the possession of the assistant dean for faculty affairs and are treated with appropriate confidentiality.

7) Any request for exceptions to the foregoing should be addressed to the assistant dean for faculty affairs. By mutual agreement of the assistant dean for faculty affairs and the non-faculty academic appointee, the stated formal procedure may be waived in favor of a procedure more appropriate to a particular circumstance.

 

* Non-faculty academic appointees include research scientists, research associates, research fellows, instructors, visiting scientists, and other annual appointees whose appointments are administered by the Office of Faculty Affairs.