This document contains the revised Primary Librarians’/Archivists’ Grievance Procedures based on the Primary Librarians Grievance Procedure (February 1988) and the Faculty Appeal Procedures (April 2003). It was approved by Librarians’ Forum and the University Librarian.
These procedures are available, under the conditions specified below, to all librarians and archivists of the University Library System who have disputes or complaints concerning the way decisions have been made about any aspect of their employment.
It is the intent of these procedures to provide a prompt and humane review of a unit or departmental action so that, if mistakes have been made, they may be corrected, or alternatively, if action taken was proper, it may be better understood by the person affected. It is intended that informal consultation will resolve most problems and that these procedures will apply only when informal methods have failed.
For disputes that principally involve charges of harassment or discrimination, etc., other forums within the University may be more appropriate for the resolution of those issues, and disputants are encouraged to contact the Academic Human Resources Office for advice on the most appropriate venue. The same dispute may not be pursued simultaneously through more than one formal venue within the University. However, issues remaining unresolved after completing one venue may be pursued through another, without loss of entitlement to access based on the 120 day limitation (see Section IV.B.1.), if the initial appeal to any formal venue (other than Consultation and Conciliation Service) was within those time limits.
These procedures are not the proper forum to address issues that arise between individuals, or groups, or between members of one unit in regard to treatment by another unit or by administrators of another unit.
A. General Principles
Full and truthful participation
These procedures are designed to provide a fair internal mechanism for resolving disputes. The success of these procedures depends upon willingness of all members of the University community to participate when asked and to participate truthfully.
As an internal review related to individual employment-related problems, all aspects of the review under these procedures are intended to be confidential. All parties and participants will hold these matters in confidence, to the extent permitted by law.
B. Suggested Resources for Preparation for Grievances
- Primary Librarians’/Archivists’ Grievance Procedures (August, 2000)
- Faculty Handbook; Librarians, Archivists, and Curators
- Faculty Handbook available from the Library, the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs’ Office [hereafter referred to as the Provost] or the SACUA Office, and on-line
- Academic Human Resources
- Regents’ Bylaws, available from the Library, the Provost’s Office, the Office of the Secretary of the University, or the SACUA Office, and on-line
- SACUA (Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs) Office and officers, including the Faculty Legal Services Advisory Council, the Academic Affairs Advisory Committee, and the Civil Liberties Committee; U-M, Ann Arbor, AAUP Chapter officers or Executive Secretary; see on-line for further information
- Standard Practice Guide
II. Access to Grievance Procedures
A. Eligible Grievants
These procedures are available to all Primary Librarians of the University Library System who are classified as one of the following: Assistant Librarian, Associate Librarian, Senior Associate Librarian, or Librarian. They are also available to all Archivists of the University Library System classified as Assistant Archivist, Associate Archivist, or Archivist.
B. Grievable matters
These procedures are available when an individual librarian or archivist charges that a person or persons in authority have reached a decision concerning any aspect of his/her employment that is manifestly unfair or illegal. Grievances brought pursuant to this document may challenge all aspects of the decision-making process except those, which involve conclusionary judgments about professional competence (see Appendix B). That is, these grievance procedures may be used to challenge the procedures (and/or their application) used in the formation of unit, division, system, or University policy. 
These grievance procedures will not be available for:
- challenges to the desirability of such policies;
- challenges to policies universally applicable;
- challenges that are patently frivolous or without merit, based upon an interpretation of the facts most favorable to the Grievant.
The decision as to the availability of these procedures for a particular grievance will be made by the formal Grievance Review Board (see Section IV.B.4.).
Under these procedures, it is intended that no individual will be unfairly penalized or disadvantaged for bringing and pursuing a formal grievance, for serving as a representative of a person involved in such a grievance, or for providing information as requested in connection with a grievance procedure.
III. Informal Discussion Required for Formal Proceeding
A Grievant must first try to resolve a dispute by discussing it informally with the individual(s) who made or affirmed the disputed decision or who have authority to provide redress. If the matter is not resolved through these discussions, the Grievant must explore resolution through Mediation Services in the Human Resources and Affirmative Action office. This step does not require that written records be kept. However, the terms of resolution may be stated in writing if any person involved feels that this would be useful in the implementation of the terms of the resolution.
Efforts to resolve a dispute informally may continue despite the commencement of formal review under Section IV, below.
In the event a satisfactory resolution is attained informally after the formal review has begun, the formal review process will be abandoned at the written request of the Grievant. This request will be addressed to the recipient(s) of the formal grievance request as outlined in Section IV.B.1., below, and the Chair of the Grievance Review Board, if named. Since the grievance would have been resolved informally, the terms of resolution may be stated in writing if any person involved feels that this would be useful in the implementation of the terms of resolution.
IV. Formal Review
A. Definition of Roles and Responsibilities
The Grievant is the staff member who initiates a grievance. The Grievant agrees to abide by all procedures outlined in this document, to participate in good faith, and to respect the confidentiality of the process.
The Respondent is the party of one or more persons named as responsible for the action or situation that is allegedly unfair and/or illegal. The Respondent agrees to abide by all procedures outlined in this document, to participate in good faith, and to respect the confidentiality of the process.
3. Grievance Review Board (GRB)
The GRB is a committee comprised of three members: a chair from outside the University Library System and two members from the University Library System. The GRB’s first role is to decide whether a case is grievable (see Section IV.B.4.), and if so, it hears the case in a fair and timely manner according to the procedures outlined in Section IV.B.
4. Director, Adminstrative Services
The Director, Adminstrative Services maintains the confidential files, ensures that any documents used in the hearings and procedures are available to both Grievant and Respondent, notifies in writing all relevant parties of failure to meet deadlines and seeks compliance.
5. Faculty Grievance Monitor (FGM)
The FGM is a tenured member of the instructional faculty who is appointed annually by SACUA to monitor all grievances. He/she receives a copy of the written request for a review and monitors timing of deadlines at each step of the process. If the FGM identifies unacceptable delays, then he/she notifies the Director, Administrative Services, in writing. The FGM will not be actively involved in the process, but will collect the data listed in Sections IV.6. and IV.7.
The Director, Administrative Services will provide written notification to the Executive Assistant to SACUA, for use by the FGM, of the following:
- Date of establishment of the GRB
- Date of decision by the GRB to proceed or not to proceed with a formal review
- Letter notifying the Grievant and Respondent of the first day of the hearing
- Dates of meetings, and extensions, if granted
- Date that the GRB issues a provisional recommendation to the Grievant and Respondent
- Date that the GRB issues a final recommendation
- Date of the University Librarian’s response to the GRB’s final recommendation
- Notice of any appeals and whether the appeal is procedural or substantive
- Date of establishment of Appeal Board
- If a procedural appeal, then date of action of the Appeal Board
- Date of the University Librarian’s response to the Appeal Board’s recommendation
- If substantive appeal, then date of response by the University Librarian
- Date of filing a final written appeal, if made, to the Provost
In order to allow for the independent monitoring of the adequacy of the process by the FGM and with the concurrence of the Grievant, the Director, Administrative Services will promptly provide copies of the following documents to the Executive Assistant to SACUA, for the confidential use by the FGM:
- GRB’s final recommendation
- University Librarian’s response to the GRB’s final recommendation
- Appeal Board’s recommendation
- University Librarian’s response to the Appeal Board’s recommendation
- Substantive appeal decision by the University Librarian
- Final appeal decision by the Provost
These documents will be used solely by the FGM for the purpose of creating an independent institutional memory of the process and assessing the adequacy and performance of the process across all academic units and over time.
B. Formal Review Process
1. Grievant request
Within 180 calendar days of the date the Grievant first knew or could reasonably have been expected to know on the basis of documentation of the decision or event that gave rise to the grievance, he/she must request the formation of a GRB as a forum for hearing and responding to the complaint. The request must be submitted in writing to the University Librarian with copies to the Grievant’s immediate supervisor, the Director, Administrative Services, and the Respondent. This request should state clearly: the nature of the complaint, the facts supporting it, the date of knowledge of the decision or event that gives rise to this grievance and the resolution sought. In extraordinary cases, the University Librarian may extend this deadline for initiating a formal review.
2. Action by University Librarian
Upon receipt of a request for a formal review board, the University Librarian must acknowledge this receipt to the Grievant and the Respondent. Within 10 calendar days, the University Librarian will notify the Provost that a Chair of the GRB is required. The GRB must meet within 30 calendar days of the University Librarian’s receipt of the formal request. If ten calendar days have passed after the request for a formal GRB and the University Librarian has not notified the Grievant and Respondent that the GRB has been established, has not set in motion the process of designating the academic unit members of the GRB OR has not notified the Provost that a cognate member is required, then the Grievant may submit the request for a formal GRB to the Provost. The Provost must then notify, in writing, the Respondent and the University Librarian of the Grievant’s request and inform all parties of the steps taken to set in motion the process of establishing a GRB.
3. Composition of the GRB
- The GRB will consist of three members: a chair from outside the University Library System and two members from within the University Library System.
- The Chair of the GRB will be selected by lot by the Provost from the University Tenured Faculty. This individual is expected to request to be excused if he/she has prior involvement in the case for which he/she has been selected, has a significant personal or family association or especially close professional association with either the Grievant or Respondent, believes he/she cannot render an impartial and fair judgment, or is physically unable to serve.
- The two remaining members of the GRB will be chosen from among non-probationary librarians at the rank of Associate Librarian or above (or the corresponding ranks among Archivists) in the University Library System. The University Librarian, Associate University Librarians, and the Assistant to the University Librarian, or persons in any other position reporting directly to the University Librarian are ineligible for selection to the GRB. Within ten calendar days of the University Librarian’s dated acknowledgment of receipt of the request for a GRB (Section IV.B.2.), the Grievant and the Respondent will each nominate three individuals. The Director, Administrative Services, will coordinate this process by making each party’s list available to the other. Within ten working days of the receipt of the notice of a pending grievance from the University Librarian, the grievant and respondent shall each nominate one person to serve on the GRB. Within a further ten calendar days each will select one of the other party’s nominees to serve on the GRB. The Director, Adminstrative Services, will notify these two selected individuals. Members must agree to serve unless they have prior involvement in the case for which they have been selected, have a significant personal or family association, or especially close professional association with either the Grievant or Respondent, believe they cannot render an impartial and fair judgment, or are physically unable to serve.
- Once the GRB has been constituted, a member may only be excused by the Chair. In the event a member is excused, a replacement will be selected from the remaining nominees following the procedure in Section IV.B.3.c., above.
4. Grievance Review Board’s (GRB’s) Decision to Review the Case
- The GRB must consider first whether the Grievant’s complaint is grievable within the scope of Section II.B., above. Within 14 calendar days of its first meeting, the GRB must advise the Grievant, the Respondent, and the University Librarian in writing whether it will proceed with the review. If it decides the complaint is not grievable, it must state its reasons. If it decides to proceed, it will specify the date, time, and location the review will begin and the issues it will consider. The GRB will then furnish both the Grievant and the Respondent a copy of this information.
- The GRB may then suspend formal review for up to 14 calendar days while the Grievant pursues further informal resolution of the grievance pursuant to Section B above. During this time, the Chair of the GRB may function as a mediator to assist in this pursuit of an informal resolution of the grievance.
5. Parties’ Rights
For formal grievances, the Grievant and the Respondent will have the following rights:
- to have access to all relevant evidence except: 1) Confidential evaluations and other evidence that would infringe upon the privacy interests of third parties (Section IV.B.14., below), 2) Legally privileged files (e.g., medical, FASAP).
- to appear and present their cases, including evidence and witnesses, to the GRB.
- to question all witnesses who testify before the GRB. Anyone called to testify or otherwise participate is expected to comply, and to state truthfully and completely all information known first-hand to them that is requested by any of the participants during a grievance review session.
- to be accompanied before the GRB by advisers, who may be attorneys. Except for advising their clients, these advisers may not participate at the review. The GRB may request legal advice, to be provided by the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel. The office of the Vice President and General Counsel assumes responsibility for ensuring that the attorney who advises a GRB can and will provide unbiased legal advice and be free of any conflict of interest.
The review will be private, attended only by members of the GRB, the principal parties or designees approved by the GRB, and their advisers, and witnesses for the period of their testimony. The GRB Chair, Grievant, Respondent and all members of the GRB will attend all sessions of the GRB at which evidence is taken or arguments heard. The GRB members will not discuss the case or evidence presented except at a regular GRB session. The GRB Chair may invite appropriate observers or others having a substantial interest in the outcome of the case, upon mutual consent of the Grievant and Respondent. All proceedings will be confidential.
Those portions of the review at which testimony is taken will be recorded verbatim. Both Grievant and Respondent may also record the testimony. Recordings may be made by audiotaping the proceedings.
The GRB is not bound by the rules of evidence that are normally applicable in courts of law. However, the GRB will abide by generally accepted rules of confidentiality and privilege. Unduly repetitious or irrelevant evidence may be excluded. The Chair will decide these matters.
The Chair of the GRB may consult with the Director, Academic Human Resources (DAHR) or designee at any time concerning questions of grievance procedure.
The Chair of the GRB has full authority to assure an orderly and expeditious proceeding. Any person who disrupts a review or who fails to adhere to the rulings of the GRB may be excluded from the proceedings.
The Chair and all members of the GRB will attend all sessions at which evidence is taken or arguments heard.
The GRB will be permitted to call its own witnesses and request documents.
In reviewing the grievance, the GRB may address specific instances where there appears to be a violation of academic freedom, or discriminatory, illegal or manifestly unfair conduct, even if the grieved action appears to be in conformance with existing Library or University policies.
The Grievant, the Respondent, and the GRB may not have direct access to confidential departmental, Library or University files. However, any one of them may request-and the department, Library or University will permit-the Chair of the GRB to examine relevant confidential files in their entirety and to provide the GRB, the Grievant, and the Respondent with summaries of those portions of the documents related to the grievance, (but with irrelevant information and third-party identification deleted). In instances where the GRB Chair believes it is critical for the GRB, Grievant or Respondent to examine a confidential document in its entirety, the GRB Chair should consult with legal counsel and may provide the document only when it has been determined that to do so is legally permissible. When another party’s personnel file is sought, the Director, Administrative Services must obtain written permission from that party before disclosing it to the Chair.
After the review at which testimony is taken, the further deliberations and discussions of the GRB will be private and confidential and will not be recorded. In its report and any accompanying exhibits chosen to substantiate its report, the GRB will delete such portions of any record, as needed, to protect the interests of third parties or the confidentiality of evaluations. Such deletions must be noted in the report.
The GRB will deliver to the Grievant and to the Respondent a provisional recommendation within 30 calendar days after completion of testimony. The University Librarian will also be notified of the delivery. The recommendation will include a written summary of the testimony, a statement of factual findings, and, if appropriate, a recommended remedy. This recommendation will be made by a majority vote of the Chair and all members. The reasons for a dissenting vote must be stated in a minority opinion. The Grievant and the Respondent will have 7 calendar days after receipt of the provisional recommendation to submit a written response to the GRB.
The GRB will consider any responses to the provisional recommendation and will deliver its final recommendation within 14 calendar days after delivery of the provisional recommendation. The final recommendation will include a written summary of the testimony, a statement of factual findings, and, if appropriate, a recommended remedy. Recommendations will be made by a majority vote of the Chair and all members. The reasons for a dissenting vote must be stated in a minority opinion. This recommendation will be presented to the Grievant, the Respondent, and the University Librarian.
If the Grievant or Respondent believes that the review was not conducted in accordance with procedures outlined above, the Grievant or the Respondent should notify the University Librarian immediately so that the University Librarian can take this information into consideration before responding pursuant to Section V., below.
V. Administrative (University Librarian) Response
It is anticipated that normally the final recommendation(s) of the GRB will be implemented by an individual or individuals at the appropriate administrative level(s).
This person or these people must provide a written explanation of the action to be taken including a written rationale of any modification to the GRB’s final recommendation within 30 calendar days. Copies are to be sent to: the Grievant, the Respondent, the University Librarian, the Director, Administrative Services, and the Grievant’s immediate supervisor. As the final recommendation of the GRB will represent the thorough consideration of all the facts and circumstances, their recommendation should be modified only after very careful consideration.
However, if either the Grievant or the Respondent believes that the review was not conducted in accordance with Section IV., above, and initiates a Procedural Appeal pursuant to the procedures of Section VI., below, no action can be taken on the GRB’s final recommendation until the Procedural Appeal process is completed. Likewise, if the Grievant feels there has been a substantive inequity and initiates a Substantive Appeal as outlined in Section VII., below, no action can be taken on the GRB’s final recommendation until the Substantive Appeal process is completed.
VI. Procedural Appeal
A. Party’s request
If either the Grievant or the Respondent, or the University Librarian, believes that the GRB’s review was not conducted in accordance with Section C., above, any one of them may request a review by an Appeal Board. The request must be submitted in writing to or (by, as appropriate) the University Librarian within 30 calendar days of the final recommendation of the GRB.
B. Written appeal
The written appeal must include the nature of the complaint, the facts supporting it, and the remedy sought. In extraordinary cases, the University Librarian may extend the deadline for initiating a formal appeal.
C. Action by University Librarian
Upon receipt of a request for an appeal, the University Librarian must notify the Grievant, the Respondent, and the Director, Administrative Services in writing of the reasons for appeal.
D. Establishment of the Appeal Board
Within 10 calendar days of the receipt of an appeal, the University Librarian must relay that request for an Appeal Board to the Associate University Librarian with greatest seniority. The Associate University Librarian must establish the Appeal Board within 14 calendar days of notification by the University Librarian.
The Appeal Board will consist of three members of the Senior Managers Group drawn by lot by the Associate University Librarian with greatest seniority. They must be librarian/archivist members of the Senior Managers Group, excluding all categories of persons not eligible to serve on the GRB (see Section IV.B.3.c.). Only the aforementioned Associate University Librarian, the Grievant, and the Respondent (or their representatives) may be present to witness the drawing. Each eligible member of the Senior Managers Group must serve when selected unless he/she has prior involvement in the case for which he/she has been selected, has a significant personal or family association or especially close professional association with either the Grievant or Respondent, believes he/she cannot render an impartial and fair judgment, or is physically unable to serve. Once the Appeal Board is formed, the Chair of the Appeal Board will be chosen by lot.
The Appeal Board must meet within 14 calendar days of its establishment.
The Appeal Board will consider the record of the formal review and written or oral statements submitted by the Grievant and the Respondent. The Appeal Board will operate under the same procedural guidelines as established for the original GRB.
The appellate review will determine whether proper procedures were followed in the GRB review. If proper procedures were followed, the Appeal Board must so indicate, and the original GRB recommendation stands.
If new and significant evidence has become available that could not have reasonably been discovered before or during the original review, it may be introduced at this time. In the event of new evidence, the case will be returned to the GRB.
If proper procedures were not followed, the case will be assigned to a newly constituted GRB.
No other actions are within the province of an Appeal Board.
The Appeal Board will deliver its confidential recommendation in writing within 30 calendar days of the first meeting. In extraordinary situations, the University Librarian may extend this deadline. The reason(s) for a dissenting vote must be stated in a minority opinion. The Appeal Board’s recommendation will be presented to the Grievant, Respondent, the University Librarian, and the Director, Administrative Services.
The University Librarian must respond in writing to this Appeal Board recommendation within 30 calendar days of its receipt. This written explanation for accepting or rejecting the recommendation must be provided to the Grievant, Respondent, the Director, Administrative Services, and the Grievant’s immediate supervisor. It must include a statement of action to be taken and a rationale for any modifications.
VII. Substantive Appeal (Petition to the University Librarian)
In the event the Grievant or the Respondent believes that there has been a significant inequity in decisions, the Grievant or the Respondent may petition the University Librarian. The petition must be submitted in writing to the University Librarian within 30 calendar days of the date of the receipt of the recommendation of the Appeal Board or of the Administrative (University Librarian) Response (see Section VI.H., above).
The University Librarian may make further inquiry, take appropriate action, or allow the recommendation to stand.
University Librarian must respond in writing to the petition from the Grievant or the Respondent within 30 calendar days of receiving it. In the response, action to be taken and the reasons for such action must be provided. Copies of this response must be supplied on the same date to the Grievant, the Respondent, and the Director, Administrative Services.
VIII. Final Appeal
After exhausting the Library grievance procedures, if the Grievant or the Respondent believes that there has been a substantive inequity, that person may petition by a single final written appeal to the Provost within 30 calendar days of the University Librarian’s final written response to the Substantive Appeal.
The Provost may direct further inquiry, take appropriate action, or allow the University Librarian’s final written response to stand.
The Provost’s recommendations will be approved by the President of the University of Michigan.
Appendix A: Outline of Grievance Procedure
Action: Who is responsible, time limit
- Submit grievance: G, 120 days (IV.B.1.)
- Acknowledge receipt of grievance: University Librarian, upon receipt (IV.B.2.)
- Notify Provost of need for GRB chair: University Librarian, 10 days from 2 (IV.B.2.)
- Notify G + R GRB is being formed: University Librarian, 10 days from 2 (IV.B.2.)
- Nominate 3 people each: G + R, 10 days from 2 (IV.B.3.c.)
- Each select 1 nominee: G + R, 10 days from 5 (IV.B.3.c.)
- GRB must meet: University Librarian + Provost, 30 days from 2 (IV.B.2.)
- Decide if matter is grievable: GRB, 14 days from 7 (IV.B.4.a.)
- Suspend review while informal: GRB + G, 14 days from 8, methods are pursued (IV.B.4.b.)
- Testimony taken: No time limit
- Provisional recommendation: GRB, 30 days from end of 10 (IV.B.16.)
- Written response to GRB: G + R, 7 days from 11 (IV.B.16.)
- Final recommendation: GRB, 14 days from 11 (IV.B.17.)
- Written plan of action: Responsible party, 30 days from 13 if (V.B.) no appeal is made
- Procedural appeal: G, R, or University Librarian, 30 days from 13 (VI.A.)
- Notify G + R of receipt of appeal: University Librarian, Upon receipt (VI.C.)
- Request Appeal Board: University Librarian, 10 days from 15 (VI.D.)
- Appeal Board formed: Associate University Librarian, 14 days from 17 (VI.D.)
- Appeal Board meets: Appeal Board, 14 days from 18 (VI.F.)
- Recommendation of Appeal Board: Appeal Board, 30 days from 19 (VI.I.)
- Acceptance/Rejection of Recommend: University Librarian, 30 days from 20 (VI.J.)
- Substantive appeal: G or R, 30 days from 13 (VII.A.)
- Action taken or other response: University Librarian, 30 days from 22 (VII.C.)
- Appeal to Provost: G or R, 30 days from 23 (VIII.A.)
Appendix B: Examples of Grievable and Non-grievable Matters
This list is intended to provide examples of grievable and non-grievable matters. It is not to be considered exhaustive.
1. Merit review procedures
Example: the informal discussion with the unit head was omitted due to “time constraints” and the resulting written review is viewed as weak or incomplete by the person evaluated.
2. Promotion review procedures
Example: The unit head fails to meet with an individual to discuss the promotional process.
3. Denial of vacation/sick/professional leave time request
Example: The unit head repeatedly denies specific requests from an individual for vacation time due to “scheduling” problems.
1. Merit review ratings
Example: Librarian X and Librarian Y both work in the Agriculture Library under Librarian Z. Librarian X receives a “4” and Librarian Y receives a “3.”
2. Promotion review decisions
Example: 2 Associate Librarians file for promotion; given that all procedures were followed, the decision is to promote Librarian H and not Librarian J.
3. Equity review decisions
Example: Librarian Z receives a “3” with a merit increase of 6% and Librarian A receives a “3” with a merit increase of 9%.
Appendix C: Grievance Files
A grievance file will be created by the Library Human Resources office once the formation of a formal Grievance Review Board is requested. Grievance files will be separate and distinct from regular personnel files. The Library Human Resources office shall create and maintain a list of the contents as part of each grievance file. There will be no reference in any individual’s personnel files to the fact that an employee has been involved in a grievance procedure. Grievance files are not to be used to determine a grievant’s or witness’ qualifications for employment, promotions, transfers, additional compensation, or disciplinary action.
The grievance file will contain all relevant documents pertaining to the grievance including all supporting documentation. It will be retained, in the Library Human Resources office, for only seven years. During this period, only the following people will have access to a grievance file: the University Librarian, the Grievant, or the Director, Administrative Services. After this period of time, the grievance file will be destroyed.