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Alfred State, in its continuing effort to seek equity in education and employment and in support of federal and state anti-discrimination legislation, has adopted this grievance procedure for the prompt and equitable investigation and resolution of allegations of unlawful discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, age, sex, disability, or marital status.
This procedure, which may be used by an Alfred State student or employee, is in no way intended to supplant or duplicate any already existing grievance procedures, including the informal resolution process presently in practice. Employee grievance procedures established through negotiated contracts, academic grievance review committees, student disciplinary grievance boards, and any other procedures defined by contract or local by-laws will continue to operate as before. Neither does this procedure in any way deprive a complainant of the right to file with outside enforcement agencies, such as New York State Division of Human Rights, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, or the Wages and Hours Division of the Department of Labor.
Rather, this Grievance Procedure for the Review of Allegations of Illegal Discrimination provides an additional mechanism through which the college may identify and eliminate incidents of illegal discrimination. The college recognizes and accepts its responsibility in this regard and believes that the establishment of this internal, non-adversary grievance process will benefit students, faculty, staff, and administration alike, permitting investigation and resolution of problems without resort to the frequently expensive and time-consuming procedures of state and federal enforcement agencies or courts.
Requirements for Filing Grievances
- A grievance must be submitted in writing on forms provided by the college and are available in the Human Resources Office.
- Employees must file a grievance within 45 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or the date on which the grievant first knew or reasonably should have known of such act if that date is later. Students must file a grievance within 45 calendar days following the alleged discriminatory act or 45 calendar days after a final grade is received, if that date is later.
- Grievances must be filed with the campus affirmative action officer.
Procedures for Processing Grievances
- The affirmative action officer shall receive any complaint of alleged discrimination, shall assist the complainant in defining the charge, and shall provide the complainant with information about the various internal and external mechanisms through which the complaint may be filed, including applicable time limits for filing with each agency.
- If the complainant chooses to use the College Grievance Procedure for the Review of Allegations of Illegal Discrimination, the affirmative action officer shall assist the complainant to fill out the appropriate form, signing and dating a copy of the completed form for the complainant.
- The affirmative action officer shall seek to resolve the complaint informally and shall have the right to all relevant information and to interview witnesses, including the right to bring together complainant and respondent, if desirable. If a resolution satisfactory to both complainant and respondent is reached within 14 calendar days through the efforts of the affirmative action officer, the officer shall close the case, sending a written notice to that effect to the complainant and respondent. The written notice, a copy of which shall be attached to the original complaint form in the officer’s files, shall indicate the agreement reached by the complainant and respondent and shall be signed and dated by the complainant, the respondent, and the affirmative action officer.
- If the affirmative action officer is unable to resolve the complaint to the mutual satisfaction of the grievant and the respondent within 14 calendar days, the officer shall so notify the grievant, advising the grievant of his/her right to proceed to the next step internally or to file with the appropriate enforcement agencies immediately.
- If a formal complaint with a state or federal agency or court action is filed by a grievant, any internal investigation or review under way on the same complaint will terminate without conclusion, except that if internal investigation is prolonged to the point that the statute of limitation for filing outside agencies may be exceeded [180 days for Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Office of Civil Rights (OCR) complaints; 365 day for Division of Human Rights complaints], a charge may be filed with the appropriate agency without interruption of the internal procedure.
- If the grievant chooses to proceed through the Affirmative Action Grievance Procedures, the grievant shall notify the affirmative action officer in writing within 14 calendar days from the time of notification by the affirmative action officer that the issues cannot be resolved informally.
- The grievant’s statement, together with a statement from the affirmative action officer indicating that informal resolution was not possible, shall be forwarded to the grievance chair of the campus Affirmative Action Council within five days. (The Campus Affirmative Action Council shall select a grievance chair, who shall be someone other than the campus affirmative action officer.)
- Within the same five calendar days of receipt, the affirmative action officer shall also notify the grievant and respondent and the campus president that a review of the matter shall take place by an ad hoc tripartite committee to be jointly selected by the grievant and the president from a pre-selected panel of campus administrators, faculty, employees, and students recommended to the president by the Affirmative Action Council to hear discrimination complaints. (It shall be the responsibility of the campus Affirmative Action Council to establish such a panel.)
- The ad hoc tripartite committee shall consist of one member of the pre-selected panel chosen by the respondent, one member chosen by the grievant, and a third, who shall chair the committee, chosen by the two designees submitted to the grievance chair of the Affirmative Action Council within 10 calendar days.
- The tripartite committee shall review the matter, as appropriate, and shall have the right to all relevant information and to interview witnesses, including the right to bring together complainant and respondent, if desirable. Both complainant and respondent shall be permitted rebuttal to the written record compiled by the committee after forwarded to the president.
- Within 21 calendar days from the formation of the committee, the chair shall submit an opinion to the campus president stating only if discrimination has or has not occurred.
- If a tripartite committee cannot be elected within 10 days, either because the grievant cannot select a member of the panel or the two selected panel members cannot agree on a third member, the Affirmative Action grievance chair (and, in the latter case, grievant) shall be notified within that period of time.
- The grievant may, in such cases, request that an outside hearing officer review the charge. Such request must be made in writing by the grievant to the Affirmative Action grievance chair within 10 days from notification that a campus tripartite committee cannot be formed.
- The grievance chair shall submit a written statement within five days to the assistant vice chancellor for Affirmative Action requesting that an outside hearing officer be appointed. The written request shall include a copy of the original grievance statement and the reason an outside hearing officer is being requested. An affirmative action officer from another SUNY campus shall be assigned hearing officer.
- The assistant vice chancellor for Affirmative Action shall designate a hearing officer within seven days of receipt of the written request.
- The hearing officer shall conduct a review and shall submit an opinion to the president with 21 calendar days from the date of appointment. The hearing officer shall have the right to all relevant information and to interview witnesses, including the right to bring together complainant and respondent, if desirable. The hearing officer should give the right to rebuttal to both parties prior to submission of final report.
- The president or designee shall communicate the opinion of the tripartite committee or of the hearing officer verbatim and in writing to the grievant and to the campus affirmative action officer within 10 calendar days with a statement indicating his acceptance or rejection of the committee’s recommendation. The president will indicate his decision either to dismiss the charge for lack of evidence that unlawful discrimination has occurred or to discuss appropriate redress with the grievance if unlawful discrimination has been found.
Off-Campus Resolution of Grievances
If the grievant is dissatisfied with the president’s response, either because of a negative finding or disagreement over what constitutes appropriate redress, the grievant may file a formal complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency. The campus affirmative action officer will provide information on state and federal guidelines and laws and names and addresses of enforcement agencies.
If a Campus Academic Grievance Committee has been established to review student complaints concerning grades, it shall continue to hear such complaints. If discrimination is alleged to be the basis for the grade, the campus affirmative action officer may, at the request of the Academic Grievance Committee, sit with the committee in an advisory capacity during the review.
Further Provision on Time Limits
- All of the time limits contained above, with the exception of the 45-day limit on the initial filing of grievances, may be extended by mutual agreement of the grievant and the president or his designee.
- If the College or designee thereof at any step fails to review and/or respond within the time limits provided, the grievant may proceed to the next step.
- If grievant fails to respond within the time limits provided, the grievance shall be deemed to have been withdrawn.
- In the event of a question of the timeliness of any grievance, grievance appeal or response, the dating and signing of the document shall be determinative. Any notices or documents sent by mail must be sent as registered mail and date or receipt shall be determinative.