12.0 Procedures for Appeals of Personnel Action Decisions and Violations of the Faculty Guidelines

This policy applies to regular status faculty members, defined as Tenured Faculty, Tenure Track Faculty, Pre-Tenure Track Faculty, and Non-Tenure Track Faculty.

12.1 Grievance Arising from Initial Hiring

Should an applicant for a full-time regular status faculty position believe that he/she has been discriminated against on any unlawful basis or that proper procedures have not been followed, the applicant is to be referred to the University EEO/AA officer.

12.2 Grievance Arising from a Personnel Action or a Violation of the Faculty Guidelines

12.2.1 Regular status faculty members have a right to appeal personnel decisions that they believe are unfair, unlawful, are a violation of the Faculty Guidelines or University policies and procedures, or are discriminatory. If the faculty member believes there has been a violation of laws governing employment, he/she may appeal directly to the EEO office as detailed in Section 12.7. Such an appeal to the EEO office may be filed concurrently with an appeal to the administration as detailed below.

12.2.2 Decisions regarding denial of tenure or dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member or other violations as defined in Section 12.4.1 may be appealed (in order) to the Dean, the Provost, the Grievance Committee, the President, and the Board of Trustees.

12.2.3 Decisions regarding non-promotion or non-reappointment, or an alleged violation of the Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures, or laws governing employment may be appealed (in order) to the Dean, the Provost, the Grievance Committee, and the President.

12.2.4 Decisions regarding leaves or merit increases may be appealed (in order) to the Dean and the Provost. If however an appeal relating to leaves or merit increases includes an allegation that the University has violated the Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures or laws governing employment, then the provisions for Section 12.2.3 will apply. Unless there has been an alleged violation of the Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures, or laws governing employment, final appeal decisions regarding leaves and merit increases rest with the Provost.

12.3 Appeals to the Administration

12.3.1 If a faculty member disagrees with a personnel decision regarding his/her non-promotion, non-reappointment, leaves, merit increases, an alleged violation of the Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures, or laws governing employment, denial of tenure, or dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member, the faculty member may appeal the decision to the Dean. Such an appeal must be made in writing to the Dean within 20 class days of the regular academic year of the notification, barring extenuating circumstances. In such cases, the faculty member should provide any information that would assist the Dean in making a decision. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the Dean must rule on this appeal within 10 business days. If the grievance concerns dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member, then the response from the Dean must include a statement of specific charges.

12.3.2 If the decision of the Dean does not resolve the grievance, the faculty member may appeal the decision to the Provost. Such an appeal must be made in writing within 10 class days of the regular academic year of receipt of the Dean's response, barring extenuating circumstances. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the Provost must rule on this appeal within 10 business days. If the grievance concerns dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member, then the response from the Provost must include a statement of specific charges. Unless there has been an alleged violation of the Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures, or laws governing employment, in cases of leaves and merit increases the decision of the Provost is final.

12.4 Appeals to the Grievance Committee

12.4.1 Grounds for Grievances

A grievance may be brought to the Grievance Committee when the action of an academic program, department, school or administrative unit is involved in a potential violation of academic freedom, University policies, procedures, or of other faculty rights. A grievance may be related to individual faculty contracts, the University Faculty Guidelines, University policy or procedures as provided in the Administration and Operations (A&O) manual, or violations of laws governing employment. Examples include but are not limited to the following: 

    • Recommendation of dismissal
    • Suspension
    • Recommendation of revocation of tenure
    • Recommendation of reduction of academic rank
    • Recommendation of reduction of individual salary
    • Denial of tenure or promotion or reappointment
    • Involuntary repositioning within the institution, e.g. from teaching/research to research only or from an 11-month assignment to a 9-month assignment without reasonable cause. 
    • Assignment of workload or teaching load 
    • Harassment by colleague(s), department head, and/or dean 
    • Discrimination based on age, sex, disability, race, religious background, or sexual preference (See A&O Manual) 
    • Any other action that violates the rights of the faculty member

In general, this section does not cover the merits of denial of tenure, promotion or reappointment. It does, however, require that the rules and regulations applicable to the granting or denial of tenure or promotion or reappointment delineated in the Faculty Guidelines and in other relevant University publications be fully complied with and administered fairly. This section also covers situations where tenure or promotion or reappointment is denied for reasons that involve a violation of academic freedom.
If a faculty member submits a grievance and appeals to the Provost but disagrees with the decision of the Provost, he/she may appeal the decision to the Grievance Committee. Barring extenuating circumstances, such an appeal must be made in writing to the Grievance Committee within 10 class days of the regular academic year of the receipt of the Provost's response.

12.4.2 The faculty member shall document his/her complaint as precisely as possible. The faculty member shall provide copies of items, such as the letter of appointment (initial and all subsequent reappointment letters), copy of applicable section(s) of the University Faculty Guidelines, University policy, or procedures or laws governing employment, and any other relevant documents such as email correspondence referred to in the letter of appointment or complaint. If the committee receives a complaint that is not complete, it shall notify the faculty member and specify the additional information or documentation that is needed to make the complaint complete without prejudice; that is, with the understanding that the faculty member may request to reopen the complaint if and when the faculty member completes the documentation requested by the committee. If the faculty member fails to complete the complaint within an agreed-upon time frame, the committee shall close the complaint. After all the documentation has been received, the committee shall then review the complaint, verify the documentation, and determine within 10 class days of the regular academic year, barring extenuating circumstances, whether the Grievance Committee has jurisdiction over the complaint. If at least two (2) members of the committee vote to accept the case, then the committee shall hear the case.

12.4.3 If any member of the Grievance Committee has any bias or conflict of interest, the University Faculty Chair will replace that person with a tenured faculty member who has no bias or conflict of interest. The Grievance Committee shall call witnesses and investigate evidence relevant to the case. The Grievance Committee investigation shall be closed, with only the committee members and the testifying witnesses attending. When the faculty member is present, he/she shall have the right to be assisted by another faculty member or an advocate. It shall be understood that this person is acting as a lay advocate and not in a legal capacity. The Grievance Committee's final deliberations shall be closed.

12.4.4 In the Grievance Committee's hearing of an appeal related to the termination of a tenured appointment for adequate cause or dismissal for adequate cause previous to the expiration of a term contract, the burden of proof will be on the University. At the hearing, the faculty member shall have the opportunity to be heard in her/his defense by all bodies that pass judgment upon her/his case. There shall be a full stenographic record of the hearing available to the parties concerned. In the hearing of charges of incompetence the testimony shall include that of teachers and other scholars, either from Gallaudet University or from other institutions.

12.4.5 The Grievance Committee's investigation must be completed within 25 class days of the regular academic year of its inception unless there are extenuating circumstances. Permission to exceed the 25 class day period must be approved by the University Faculty Chair and explained to the faculty member.

12.4.6 At the end of its investigation, the Grievance Committee shall submit a report with recommendations to the President with a copy to the Provost, the faculty member, and the University Faculty Chair. Reports of those cases concerning dismissal shall include a copy of the stenographic record of the hearing.

12.5 Appeals to the President

12.5.1 The President shall review the report of the Grievance Committee and may consult, as appropriate, with the Provost, The Grievance Committee, and others in making his/her decision.

12.5.2 Unless there are extenuating circumstances, the President shall inform the faculty member of his/her decision within 10 business days of receiving the report.

12.5.3 If the President rejects the Grievance Committee's recommendation, he/she will state his/her reasons for doing so, in writing, to the Grievance Committee and the faculty member. The Grievance Committee may then respond to the President, with a copy to the faculty member, within 10 class days of the regular academic year.

12.5.4 Except for cases involving denial of tenure or dismissal, the decision of the President is final.

12.6 Appeals to the Board of Trustees

12.6.1 The Board of Trustees may hear appeals regarding only the denial of tenure or the dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member.

12.6.2 In cases of either dismissal or denial of tenure, the faculty member has the right to appeal to the Board of Trustees. He/she must submit his/her appeal to the Board through the University Board Liaison. Such an appeal must be made in writing within 20 class days of the regular academic year of receipt of the President's response, barring extenuating circumstances. Procedures for appealing to the Board may be obtained from the University Board Liaison.

12.6.3 When the Board reviews a case concerning dismissal, they will be provided a copy of the stenographic record of the Grievance Committee hearing.

12.6.4 Except as specified in Section 12.7, in cases of the denial of tenure or the dismissal of a tenured or non-tenured regular status faculty member, the decision of the Board is final.

12.7 Appeals to the EEO Officer

In situations where there has been an alleged violation of laws or regulations governing employment (e.g., discrimination), the faculty member may submit a request to the EEO Officer to investigate the original personnel decision which led to the grievance, in accordance with EEO guidelines. The faculty member should contact the EEO office for information on timelines for requesting such an investigation. Faculty should also be aware that legal actions stemming from grievances of this kind may be subject to a statute of limitations.