The Foothill-De Anza Community College District
Grievance Process - Internal Review
If conciliation efforts are unsuccessful, every faculty member has a right to file a Notice of Grievance within 50 school-days of "discovery." (Both the FA and District strongly discourage filing frivolous or merit-less grievances, however.) Filing a Notice of Grievance convenes an informal Internal Review Hearing where the college president, or the president's designee, hears the grievance and renders a written decision.
Two or more weeks prior to the filing deadline, the faculty grievant and conciliator meet with the FA Grievance Officer. The purpose of this meeting is to:
If the faculty grievant decides that he/she wants an Internal Review Hearing, the FA Grievance Officer assists the grievant through all remaining process steps. The first step in the process is to compose and file a proper Notice of Grievance.
Notice of Grievance
A Notice of Grievance is a standard form available from either the FA Office or District Human Resources. Every properly filed Notice supplies the following information.
To compose a Notice of Grievance, the FA Grievance Officer typically asks the grievant to prepare a timeline of all significant events in the case, gather and organize relevant documentary evidence, and write a first draft of the grievance. The Grievance Officer then edits the draft and works with the grievant to make the Notice focus exclusively on contractual issues. The Grievance Officer then files the Notice of Grievance with District Human Resources and the college president, often with documentary evidence attached as exhibits, under the direction of the grievant. Filing the Notice initiates schedule of events shown in the Grievance Flowchart.
Internal Review Hearing
The District schedules an informal Internal Review Hearing to be held within 20 school days of filing. The Hearing is informal in that there is no testimony under oath, rules of evidence nor formal procedures as there are in an Arbitration Hearing.
There are normally five people present at a Hearing: the college President (or the President's designee -- usually a Vice President, or the President from the other college) who acts as Hearing Officer; the faculty grievant; the faculty grievant's representative, if any (usually the FA Grievance Officer); the responding administrator (typically the grievant's supervisor); and a District representative, if any. The District is free to choose the District representative (typically the Vice Chancellor of Human Resources), but the Hearing Officer can serve only if he/she has not had any prior substantive involvement in the grievance.
Depending on the case complexity, the Hearing may last from 30 minutes to three hours. If any outside witnesses are asked to supply information during the Hearing, they are present at the Hearing only when giving testimony.
The Hearing usually begins with introductions, then the faculty grievant is asked to present his/her grievance. The FA and District have agreed that the faculty grievant and responding administrator are the parties who should give most of the testimony during Hearings since they have the detailed knowledge of the grievance circumstances. The FA and District representatives act in supporting roles and contract experts for their respective parties, but not as their lawyers. The faculty grievant is allowed to give his/her version of events without interruption. The Hearing Officer may occasionally interject a question for clarification, however. After the faculty grievant presentation, the responding administrator gives his/her version of events, again without interruption. There is then an extended period of back-and-forth where the parties may question and challenge one another in an attempt to clarify and/or interpret conflicting views of events.
While Article 5.4.1 stipulates that, "...the President shall make a good faith effort to resolve the disputes related to the Agreement to the extent practicable and consistent with legal statutes and regulations", Hearing Officers rarely, if ever, actively attempt to get the parties to resolve their differences at Internal Review Hearings. When the Hearing Officer concludes that all issues and evidence has been presented, he/she will typically ask if anyone has anything further to say. If not, the Hearing Officer adjourns the Hearing. The Hearing Officer may seek additional information from any source after the Hearing before rendering a decision, but both parties are fully informed of the nature and source of such additional information.
Internal Review Decision
Within seven school days after the Internal Review Hearing, the Hearing Officer renders a written decision on the grievance. The Hearing Officer may find for the faculty grievant and grant the requested remedies (this rarely happens); partial remedies may be offered (this rarely happens); or the Hearing Officer may find that the District did not violate, misinterpret or misapply any terms of the Agreement (this almost always happens).
For at least the past 10 years, the District's consistent practice has been to place the burden of proof on the faculty grievant and to be swayed only by overwhelming evidence against the District at Internal Review Hearings. Since the cases with overwhelming evidence (in either direction) are normally settled during conciliation, the District has judged itself blameless and granted no remedies in well over 90 percent of all Internal Review Hearings.
Up to this point in the Grievance Process, the faculty grievant "owns" the grievance. That is, he or she is in full control of the conciliation phase (the process is initiated and driven by the faculty member, not administration) and the Internal Review Hearing phase (the Notice of Grievance is initiated, driven and withdrawn by the faculty member). Once the District denies the Notice of Grievance remedy, the faculty grievant may ask the Faculty Association to submit the grievance to binding arbitration for resolution. At this point ownership of the grievance passes from the faculty member to the Faculty Association.