The Foothill-De Anza Community College District

Grievance Process - Discovery


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All Things Grievable

You can’t grieve everything. In fact, District faculty can only grieve specific terms of the Agreement. And since the Agreement is a collective bargaining agreement between labor (faculty) and management (the Board) about working conditions (e.g., load, schedule, evaluations), compensation (e.g., salary, health benefits, Professional Development Leaves) and employee status (tenure procedures, layoff procedures, retirement programs), every grievance must allege some contractual foul play done by the Board to faculty in one of these three areas. Here are some examples.

Is A Grievance

Is Not A Grievance

  • The reprimand letter that my dean placed in my personnel file is inaccurate.
  • My schedule of an 8:00 a.m. class followed by a 4:00 p.m. class is unfair.
  • My tenure committee is evaluating me on criteria that aren't in the Tenure Review Handbook.
  • My dean included anonymous student complaints in my administrative evaluation.
  • The District health plan refused to pay for a treatment that my doctor told me was necessary.
  • My dean is a disagreeable, opinionated person who simply doesn't like me.
  • My colleague in the next office is an obnoxious loud-mouth who should have never gotten tenure.
  • The county sheriff is unfairly investigating me for stalking and harassing one of my students.
  • My jealous colleagues have banded together and decided to stop ordering my textbook.
  • My dean is so incompetent he is ruining the department; the president should fire him.

Every issue in this column is a contractual issue relating to working conditions, compensation or job status. The facts in each case would determine whether each grievance has merit (a separate issue), but all issues are “grievable.”

None of the issues in this column, per se, are contractual issues. The Agreement deals exclusively with faculty-to-management issues. Faculty-to-faculty, faculty-to-student, management-to-management and faculty-to-outside agency are all beyond the scope of the Agreement.


Timely Grievances

Faculty members must file “timely” grievances. The filing deadline is 50 school (not calendar) days from “discovery,” the date when the faculty member discovered, or reasonably could have discovered, when the alleged violation, misinterpretation or misapplication (VMM) occurred. Under highly unusual circumstances, the deadline may be extended up to one calendar year from discovery with good reason.

The Grievance Clock

  • Filing deadline is 50 school days from discovery
  • Under no case is deadline more than one calendar year
  • Clock starts from date of actual, not potential, harm
  • Clock stops during summer session and inter-quarter breaks

For example, faculty member Dave cannot file a grievance in spring quarter because his dean placed an inaccurate administrative evaluation in his campus personnel file in fall quarter. The grievance clock starts ticking when Dave discovers (or reasonably could have discovered) that he is actually harmed. In this example, Dave would have 50 school days from the time the evaluation was placed in his campus personnel file – not from the date Dave signed, or refused to sign, his evaluation. The reason for fixing harm at this date is twofold; (1) the District cannot dismiss, suspend or reprimand Dave on the basis of written material not contained in his campus personnel file (see Article 8.9), and (2) the dean might decide to discard Dave's evaluation and do another, thereby rendering the signing date superfluous.

Because faculty members may be unavailable during summer sessions and inter-quarter breaks, the 50-day grievance clock stops ticking during those periods. It starts up again the first contractual day of the academic year (normally District flex day), and continues for the entire 175-school-day academic year (until the last day of finals week, spring quarter).

Shades of Gray

Most potential grievances are not as clear-cut as the examples above, and the FA does not expect District faculty to resolve the “timeliness” and “grievability” issues before calling the Association. The FA-appointed campus conciliators are contract experts trained to extract contract issues from convoluted circumstances, and to refer District faculty to the proper outside resources if FA doesn’t have jurisdiction.

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FHDA Faculty Association
Last Update: June 24, 2016