Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedures for Employees of Dartmouth College

Policy ID

033-0002

Effective Date

Friday, January 1, 2016

Division

Office of the President

Office of Primary Responsibility

Office of Institutional Diversity & Equity (IDE)

Summary of Policy

A policy outlining the procedures for employees filling a equal opportunity grievance.

Affected Parties

All Groups

Policy Statement

Notice of Non-Discrimination

Any employee or student of Dartmouth College who believes that he or she has been subjected to a violation of the Policy may bring a grievance under the Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedure. This includes any exempt, non-exempt or union employee, faculty member, student employee, or applicant for employment in Arts & Sciences, Geisel School of Medicine, Tuck School of Business, and Thayer School of Engineering. Visitors or guests of the College may also use the Grievance Procedure if they believe they are the victim of discrimination prohibited by the Policy.  

The Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedure most fully serves exempt and non-exempt and service employees with discrimination complaints. Therefore, the process described below focuses primarily on the specifics of handling grievances by and against such employees. The exceptions that apply when complaints are by or against students or against faculty members are explained in a separate section. Federal and state law and College policy prohibit retaliation against an employee who complains about a possible violation of the Policy.

Grievants must register their concerns within two academic terms (six months) of the alleged violation in order to have access to the entire Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedure.

*Dartmouth College refers to the entire institution, including the professional schools, graduate programs, and auxiliary activities.

Filing a Grievance

Prior to Filing a Grievance

An employee who believes he or she has been discriminated against in violation of this Policy is encouraged to first seek a resolution of the problem through discussion with the person(s) directly involved, including his or her supervisor. In cases where an employee chooses not to discuss the problem with the person(s) directly involved or with his/her supervisor, he or she may consult with the College Ombudsperson, an IDE representative or a Human Resources Consultant about possible resolutions and next steps. Designated personnel in these offices will attempt to resolve the problem through consultation and discussion.

Normally, resolution at this stage does not involve a factual investigation or a conclusion that the Policy was or was not violated. Rather, it involves an opportunity for communications regarding areas of dispute in hopes of resolving the dispute.

When resolution is not reached in IDE or HR, the employee should consult with the Ombudsperson to discuss other resolution options and the procedure for bringing a formal grievance. Please note: While a non-union employee is free to use any of the resources identified above in order to resolve his or her concern, the College expects that non-union employees will consult with the Ombudsperson prior to initiating a formal grievance under this Policy or the General Grievance Policy. This step will help ensure that the employee has evaluated resolution options and invokes the right procedures to address the employee's concern. The Ombuds Office will not be part of any formal grievance process and will not take sides in any dispute.   

Internal Review

  1. To initiate a Grievance under this Policy, the grievant submits a written statement outlining the relevant facts that form the basis of the complaint and stating the relief sought in the IDE office. An IDE representative, will, if requested, assist in preparing the statement.
  2. Upon receiving the written statement, an IDE representative will notify the appropriate division leader or department head that the grievance has been filed. The IDE representative will then initiate an inquiry into all facts relevant to the case and will decide, within two weeks of receipt of the grievance, whether or not the Policy has been violated. This process typically involves meetings with the grievant and the respondent and other relevant witnesses. 

    In some cases, the IDE representative will meet with the grievant and the respondent at the same time. If the grievant wishes, a fellow College employee may accompany the grievant to the meeting to provide support at such a meeting. However, as this is an internal meeting, non-employees, including legal counsel, are not permitted at the meeting. 

  3. If the IDE representative decides that the Policy was not violated, the grievant will be advised in writing as to the reason for this decision. Where the IDE representative determines that the matter does not involve a violation of the Policy, but the events underlying the grievance merit further attention, the IDE representative will refer the case to the appropriate office.
  4. If the IDE representative finds that the Policy was violated, the IDE representative will attempt to identify an effective resolution. The resolution process will, if possible, be completed within three weeks of the IDE representative's determination. If the situation is resolved to the satisfaction of the employee who brought the grievance, the case will be considered closed. If the employee is not satisfied with the resolution made available by the IDE representative, the employee may request a review of the matter by the Hearing Review Board.
  5. If the IDE representative cannot determine whether or not the Policy was violated, the grievance should be forwarded to Hearing Review. 

Grievance Procedure 

General Provisions govern the Internal Review process.

Complaints By and Against Students

Most complaints by and against students alleging violations of this Policy are handled by the Dean of the College Office. When a student is acting as an employee of the College and is accused of discrimination, a grievant may initiate the grievance review procedure set out above. However, in such a case, the composition and decision of the Hearing Review Committee, as well as the request for reconsideration, would be handled differently from the process outlined above. The Hearing Review Committee will be selected by the dean of the school of the student against whom the grievance was filed, and will consist of one person from the Campus Climate Committee or the 504/ADA Committee, one faculty or staff member from the school, and one student. The decision of the Committee will be reviewed by the appropriate dean along with the Provost. In the event that the student complained against requests reconsideration, the Provost will review that request with the appropriate dean.

Students with discrimination grievances against non-faculty employees may use the Equal Opportunity Grievance Procedure. Students requesting a hearing as a result of a discrimination grievance against a non-faculty employee will, in consultation with the appropriate dean, choose one member from the Campus Climate Committee or the 504/ADA Committee. In the event that the student requests reconsideration, the Provost will review that request with the appropriate dean.

Complaints Against Faculty

Complaints against faculty members may be initiated in a variety of ways. Typically, a complaint that a faculty member has violated this Policy is initiated with the appropriate dean. The Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the deans of the professional schools and their designees are best prepared to handle such complaints, sometimes in consultation with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Any student, faculty or non-faculty employee or guest may also consult with the EO/AA office about a concern about the alleged discriminatory behavior of a faculty member. If informal resolution of complaints against faculty is unsuccessful, formal charges and disciplinary action must be handled under Paragraph 4 of the Agreement Concerning Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Responsibility as set out in the Organization of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Information for Union Employees

The collective bargaining agreements between the College and the unions representing College employees contain the Policy set forth above. The agreements also contain dispute resolution procedures which the union members can use to assert violations of the contract. This procedure does not supersede the contractual grievance procedure. Union members should contact union officials if they have questions regarding the application of the policy or their contract to a particular set of circumstances.  

Hearing Review

The grievant may request a Hearing Review if she or he is dissatisfied with the resolution provided by an Internal Review or if, through that process, the IDE representative has been unable to determine whether the non-discrimination policy has been violated. In order to request a review, the grievant should submit a written request to the IDE representative for a hearing before the Hearing Committee.

Composition of Hearing Committee

  1. The grievant chooses one person from the Campus Climate Committee, the 504/ADA Committee, or the equivalent.
  2. The respondent chooses one person from the Campus Climate Committee, the 504/ADA Committee, or the equivalent.
  3. The two Committee representatives choose one person from the Appeal Panel designated by the President or Provost for reviewing human resources and affirmative action grievances.
  4. The IDE representative shall serve as a non-voting adviser to the Committee and participate in all of its deliberations.

Hearing Committee membership shall be determined within two weeks of the grievant's request for a formal hearing. In the event that obtaining the above representation on the committee is impractical because of the unavailability of appropriate representatives, exceptions to the composition may be granted at the sole discretion of the IDE representative.

Policies Governing the Formal Hearing

The Hearing Committee shall be convened by its chair no less than one week and no more than three weeks after membership has been determined for the purpose of conducting preliminary business related to the case and setting the date for a formal hearing. Hearings shall be held as promptly as is consistent with allowing adequate time for the grievant and the respondent to prepare, normally not less than one week but not more than three weeks from the date of the initial meeting of the Committee. A continuance may be granted at the discretion of the Committee. Five working days prior to the date of the hearing, all persons involved in the dispute shall be sent written notice of the time and place of the beginning of the hearing.

All hearings are confidential and shall be conducted in private*. The parties may have, as advisor at the hearing, any College employee of their choice. Such advisers may offer suggestions and comments. However, the hearing is not to be regarded as an adversarial proceeding and is not subject to the procedures of a court of law. The presence of legal counsel at the hearing is not permitted. Upon request, a tape recording of the proceeding will be made for the exclusive use of the Committee and the Provost. Such recordings may not be used outside the Committee.

The grievant and the respondent shall be given the opportunity to present their side in full during the hearing, and may invite other persons with relevant information, including the IDE representative, to appear during the hearing. They shall have the right to question witnesses, as determined by the chair.

The chair of the Hearing Committee will rule on all matters of procedure. Formal rules of evidence shall not be applicable to any hearing before the Committee and any evidence or testimony which the Committee believes to be relevant to a fair determination of the grievance may be admitted.

Decision of Hearing Committee

Within two weeks of hearing all the evidence and arguments, the Committee will submit a written decision to the Provost. The Committee will make its decision using a "preponderance of evidence" as the standard of proof. A majority vote of the Committee shall determine the final decision. If the Committee finds that the Policy was violated, the decision should contain a recommendation for resolution, which may range from a warning to termination of employment. The Provost may accept, reject, or modify the Committee's decision. Within two weeks of receipt of the decision, the Provost will send his/her decision and a copy of the Committee's decision to the grievant, the respondent, and the IDE representative. The decision of the Provost will be forwarded to the appropriate administrator for implementation (depending on the employee group of the grievant and the person(s) complained against).

Request for Reconsideration

Within one week of receipt of the Provost's decision, either the grievant or the respondent may submit to the Provost a request for reconsideration of the decision. Reconsideration of a decision may be granted only if there is evidence of material procedural error or the emergence of substantial new evidence. The Provost will notify the grievant or respondent, the IDE representative, and the chair of the committee that a request for reconsideration has been submitted. Within two weeks of receipt of the request for reconsideration, the Provost must send either a written denial of the request for reconsideration or a written decision based on reconsideration of the case. The Provost's decision is final and shall not be subject to review under any other grievance procedure in force in the institution except in cases where the union grievance procedure is applicable.

If the matter proceeded to litigation, the materials submitted, oral evidence presented, discussions of the Hearing Committee and the decision of the Hearing Committee would be subject to disclosure. 

Grievance Procedure 

General Provisions govern the Hearing Review process.

*If the matter proceeded to litigation, the materials submitted, oral evidence presented, discussions of the Hearing Committee and the decision of the Hearing Committee would be subject to disclosure. 

  1. Time frames for implementing this grievance procedure are indicated in the Internal Review procedures and the Hearing Review procedures. The Director of EO/AA may adjust all stated time frames in unusual or extenuating circumstances, normally not to exceed one academic term, with notice to all involved parties.
  2. At any time during the implementation of this grievance procedure the Director of EO/AA may inform and/or seek advice and assistance from the General Counsel.
  3. This Procedure will not be invoked to judge the competency or performance of employees, but is limited to the allegation that the Policy was violated.   
  4. Protection of the rights and reputation of any accused person shall be given appropriate consideration under this procedure.

Informal Review

To initiate an informal review, an employee should prepare a written statement outlining the relevant facts that form the basis of the complaint and stating the relief sought. Staff of IDE will, if requested, assist in preparing the statement. Upon receiving a written complaint, the director will initiate an inquiry into all facts relevant to the case and will attempt, within two weeks of receipt of the complaint, to make a determination as to whether or not a preponderance of evidence supports the complainant's charge. If the director determines that a preponderance of the evidence supports the complainant's charge, the director has determined that the charge has reasonable merit.

  1. Where, in the view of the director, the case lacks merit, the complainant will be advised as to the reason for this judgment. In some cases not involving discrimination but involving other types of problems, IDE may refer the case to the appropriate office with recommendations.
  2. If the director finds that the complaint has reasonable merit, the director will notify the person(s) against whom the allegations of discrimination are made and attempt to affect an equitable resolution. The process will, if possible, be completed within three weeks of the director's determination. If the situation is resolved, the case will be considered closed.
  3. If a complaint that is judged to have reasonable merit cannot be resolved satisfactorily through the negotiations that follow Informal Review, it may go to a Formal Hearing.

Discrimination complaints by union members that cannot be resolved in the informal review may be adjudicated through the union grievance procedure rather than through the Equal Opportunity Grievance formal hearing process.

Definitions

A "grievance" is a claim that the College, acting through an individual or a group, has violated the Equal Opportunity Policy. 

A "grievant" is an employee who believes that the College has violated the Equal Opportunity Policy.  Typically, the grievant has to have been affected by the violation, but, in some cases a grievant can bring forward a complaint to address a concern that does not affect the grievant directly. 

A "respondent" is the individual who made the decision(s) or took the action(s) that forms the basis for a grievance.