5.27 - P&S Staff - Complaints and Grievances


To provide P&S staff a mechanism for addressing concerns regarding conditions of employment and working conditions.

Policy Statement

A P&S staff member has the right to present a matter of concern or dissatisfaction relating to the interpretation, application or alleged violation of written university or Board of Regents policies and/or procedures governing conditions of employment (such as disciplinary action or termination), work schedule, or compensation (other than general salary schedule adjustments).  This process is not designed to resolve P&S position classification matters; such conditions are undertaken with the Position Classification Appeal Procedure in policy 5.26.

Employees should contact the Office of Compliance and Equity Management for situations alleging discrimination based on age, color, creed, disability, ethnicity, gender identity, genetic information, marital status, national origin, political affiliation, pregnancy, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, veteran or military status, or any other protected category under applicable federal, state or local law. 

A.   Informal Resolution

A P&S staff member (or group of P&S staff) alleging a policy misinterpretation and/or misapplication, or taking objection to a disciplinary action must seek, initially, to resolve such complaint by informal means including a discussion with their immediate supervisor or the appropriate administrator.  Such informal procedure must be initiated within thirty (30) calendar days following the date the staff member(s) became aware of, or could have reasonably been expected to become aware of, the occurrence of such matter prompting the complaint. Additional informal resources beyond discussion with their immediate supervisor or appropriate administrator may include consultation with Human Resource Services (HRS) and/or the P&S Council Employee Issues Committee.

B.  Formal Grievance Procedure

Failing resolution by informal means, the formal grievance procedure may be initiated. Such procedure is to be initiated within thirty (30) calendar days following the failure of the informal resolution attempt.  However, under no circumstances shall a grievance be considered timely after six (6) months from the date of occurrence.

A formal grievance statement is to be prepared and submitted on the grievance form located in the Forms Repository. The grievance form shall contain a statement as to the description of the grievance with pertinent circumstances and date(s) of occurrence(s) noted. Such statement is to identify the policy allegedly violated, the grievance issue, and cite the relief sought.

Formal grievance actions will be resolved in conformity with the following review levels:

Level I. 

The grievant will file the completed grievance form with their department head (and dean, as applicable) and the Director of HRS. The department head (and dean or equivalent level, as applicable) and the Director of HRS or their designee shall conduct an investigation, and give the grievant the right to present their case orally or in writing. The department head (and dean or equivalent level, as applicable) shall provide a response within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of the grievance.

Level II.

If a disposition is not issued within the prescribed period or if the grievant finds the decision as rendered at Level I to be unsatisfactory, they may, within seven (7) calendar days, appeal in writing to their division head. Such appeal will include all of the information contained in the first level of the grievance and any other pertinent information the grievant may wish to submit. The appeal must be signed and dated by the grievant. The division head or their designee will complete an investigation of the grievance, which will include providing the grievant the right to present the case orally or in writing, and submit their findings in writing to the grievant within thirty (30) calendar days of receipt of an appeal. The division head or their designee may affirm, reverse, or modify the decision rendered at Level II.

Level III.

If the grievant finds the decision at Level II to be unacceptable or if a decision is not rendered in a timely manner within the prescribed period, they may, within seven (7) calendar days, appeal to the President of the University, which includes third party arbitration.

Except where the University and the grievant agrees to an alternative selection procedure, a joint written request for a list of arbitrators shall be made to the Public Employment Relations Board. Such list is to contain the names of seven (7) potential arbitrators. The parties will, within fourteen (14) calendar days of receipt of the list, select the arbitrator to hear the case by alternately striking a single name until one name remains. The grievant will be the first to strike a name. The person whose name remains shall be the arbitrator. The arbitrator so selected shall hold a hearing promptly and issue a report to the President no later than thirty (30) calendar days from the date of the close of the hearing. Such report shall be in writing and shall set forth findings of fact, reasoning, and recommendations on the issue(s) submitted.

The President or their designee will review the report of the arbitrator, the Level II disposition and other pertinent information submitted with the case record. After reviewing such materials, the President or their designee may complete a further investigation, conduct an oral hearing, or take other appropriate action. A decision will, on the basis of information compiled with such actions, be rendered within thirty (30) calendar days following receipt of the arbitrator's findings and recommendation(s).

C. Alternate Procedures

The University shall not be required to process the same or a substantially equivalent claim or complaint through the grievance procedure when such a complaint has been filed or if it has been adjudicated in any other form other than under the procedures described.

D. Settlement Offers

No offer of settlement of a grievance by an aggrieved staff member or a university administrator will be admissible as evidence in later grievance proceedings or elsewhere. No settlement of a grievance shall constitute a binding precedent in the settlement of a similar grievance.

E. Grievance Review Scope

If a grievance concerns non-reappointment, salary, denial of promotion, denial of continuing service status, or rejection of reassignment with continuing service, the scope of the review will be limited to determining whether the action taken failed to follow procedures.

The staff member holding continuing service status who is serving with a provisional appointment shall not have the right to grieve reassignment to a former or comparable position. Neither shall the University administration's decision to return a staff member holding a probationary appointment to a former Regents Merit System assignment or comparable position be subject to grievance proceedings.

F. Open or Closed Arbitration Hearings

Grievance arbitration hearings will be open, except by agreement between the University and the grievant or if the arbitrator orders the proceedings closed for cause.

G. Burden of Proof

Except in cases involving the dismissal for cause of a staff member with continuing service status, the grievant shall have the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that the action being grieved is improper under the grievance review scope (section E.) cited above. In the case involving the dismissal of a staff member for cause with continuing service status, the University will have the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that grounds exist to justify for cause termination of the appointment of the grievant. The party with the burden of proof will present evidence first.

H. Grievance Timeline

If a grievant does not appeal a decision rendered at a level of the grievance procedure within the time prescribed, the decision will become final. If a university representative does not reply to an employee's grievance or appeal within the prescribed time, the employee may proceed to the next level. With the consent of both parties, designated time limits may be extended.

I. Miscellaneous Provisions

A P&S employee may be assisted by a UNI employee of their choosing or legal counsel, at the employee’s expense, at any level of the grievance procedure. Each party shall make the other aware in advance of individuals present in each level as noted on the grievance form.  Presentations, reviews, investigations, and hearings held under the grievance procedure may be conducted during working hours, within reason, without loss of regular earnings. 

The cost of the arbitration, including any cost or fees billed by the arbitrator, shall be borne equally by the university and the grievant. In cases where the grievant is the prevailing party, such cost shall be borne solely by the university.

No retaliatory action shall be taken against a staff member because they filed a grievance in good faith, or assisted a grievant or served as a resource or witness in such proceedings.

P&S Council and Human Resource Services, approved November 2019
University Council, approved March 23, 2020
President and President’s Cabinet, approved April 6, 2020  
[Last reviewed and/or updated 4/2020, 1/2013]