Any Graduate Assistant seeking advice and counsel about the application of this and other policies and procedures in advance of filing a formal grievance may consult the Appeals Coordinator in the Graduate School.
1. Definition and Procedure
Any Graduate Teaching, Program, Project or Research Assistant (Graduate Assistant) of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee may use the following procedure to submit an employment-related grievance. A grievance is defined as a written complaint involving a matter for concern or dissatisfaction relating to the conditions of employment. The retention or release of any employee designated a probationary employee shall not be subject to this grievance procedure.
Grievances may be filed either by an individual Graduate Assistant or a group thereof. Graduate Assistants are strongly encouraged to discuss complaints with their immediate supervisor and make every effort to resolve the complaint prior to filing a grievance. Complaints not resolved by discussion between the employee and his/her supervisor, or director/department chair may be submitted as grievances.
This procedure shall not be used for matters related to the Graduate Assistant’s academic progress, grade appeals, or any other issue related to the Graduate Assistant’s academic program. Academic Appeals such as grade appeals shall be made according to SAAP 1-10 Grade Appeals by Students and the Graduate School Academic Appeals Procedure.
Complaints arising for any reason related to the Discriminatory Conduct and Consensual Relationships Policy should be directed to the Office of Equity/Diversity Services.
- Only one (1) subject matter shall be covered in any one (1) employment grievance. A grievance shall be in writing, and must:
- Contain a clear and concise statement of the grievance and indicate the issue involved.
- State the relief sought.
- Specify and the date the incident or alleged violation took place.
- Identify the person(s) involved.
- Some complaints may be appropriate for submittal to this grievance procedure and another procedure or forum. Such complaints may be submitted to more than one forum or procedure simultaneously.
- A grievant may invite a support person of their choosing to accompany them at any step of the grievance procedure. Support persons may take notes and ask clarifying questions but may neither speak for the grievant nor otherwise actively participate in the meeting. If the grievant will be accompanied by a support person, they must inform the respondent appropriate to that step no less than seven (7) calendar days before any meeting.
- All grievances must be submitted no later than 60 calendar days from the date the grievant first became aware of, or should have become aware of with the exercise of reasonable diligence, the cause of such grievance.
- Step One of the grievance procedure may be waived by mutual agreement of the grievant and the department chairperson/director or designee.
2. Grievance Steps
Step One: A graduate assistant may file a Step One grievance by submitting it in writing to the chairperson/director of the department in which the employee is appointed. If the chairperson/director is also the supervisor of the grievant, they may still serve as the respondent at Step One.
Within 21 calendar days of receipt of the written grievance from the employee, the department chairperson/director or designee will meet with the grievant and their support person, if any, to hear the grievance. The Step One respondent will return a written decision to the employee no later than 14 calendar days after this meeting. The Step One respondent will also submit a copy of the written decision to the Employment Relations Specialist in the Department of Human Resources.
Step Two: If the Step One decision is not satisfactory to the employee, the employee may, within 14 calendar days from receipt of the decision, appeal to the appropriate director, dean, vice provost or vice chancellor of the school, college, or division, or their designee. If such individual is the employee’s supervisor or was the respondent at Step One, the Employment Relations Specialist may ask another employee to act as the Respondent for purposes of this step. The Step Two respondent, will meet with the employee and their support person, if any, within 21 calendar days from receipt of the appeal of Step One and attempt to resolve the grievance. The respondent receiving the appeal at Step Two may solicit additional evidence from the employee’s supervisor or other parties before responding. The Step Two respondent will return a written decision to the employee no later than 14 calendar days after this meeting. The Step Two respondent will also submit a copy of the written decision to the Employment Relations Specialist in the Department of Human Resources.
Step Three: If the employee is dissatisfied with the decision in Step Two, the employee may, within 14 calendar days from receipt of the Step Two decision, appeal to the Graduate Assistant Appeals Panel (GAAP) by following the steps below.
The Step Three grievance shall be filed with the Employment Relations Specialist in the Department of Human Resources, who will receive written materials from the grievant, distribute these materials to the GAAP, and schedule the meeting.
The GAAP will consist of four individuals constituted for the purpose of considering a single grievance, or a single group-grievance as specified below. The membership of the GAAP shall include one (1) faculty member, two (2) students who are current or recent Graduate Assistants, and the Employment Relations Specialist who will serve in an ex-officio advisory capacity. The membership of the official panel will choose a chair who will convene the meeting to consider the Step 3 appeal and compose a written response summarizing the panel’s recommendation.
The GAAP faculty member will be selected from the current roster of the Graduate Scholastic Appeals Committee. The two GAAP students who are current or recent Graduate Assistant panel members will be drawn from a list of interested students identified by the leadership of each school or college, and forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean will ask this leadership to consider a wide variety of Graduate Assistant titles (Teaching, Program, Project or Research Assistant).
Membership in any Step Three appeal panel will be comprised of faculty and Graduate Assistants employed by a school or college other than that of the grievant.
The Dean of the Graduate School will attempt to select Graduate Assistants for the GAAP who are or have been appointed to the same category of position as the grievant (e.g., Research Assistants for a case brought by a Research Assistant).
The GAAP will meet with the employee and their support person, if any, within 30 calendar days of the Step Three appeal. Before or after the meeting, the Employment Relations Specialist on the GAAP may, on behalf of the panel, solicit additional evidence from the supervisor of the grievant or other parties. After this meeting, the chair of the GAAP shall submit a written recommendation for determination or resolution of the grievance to the Office of the Provost within 14 calendar days.
The Office of the Provost will weigh the results of the previous steps and issue a final written decision to the grievant within 14 calendar days after receiving the Step Three recommendation. The decision of the Office of the Provost will be final and binding on all parties.
3. Time Limits
Grievances not appealed within the designated time limits in any step of the procedure will be considered as settled on the basis of the preceding decision. Grievances not answered within the designated time limits in any step may be appealed to the next step within 14 calendar days of the expiration of the designated time limits. The parties may, however, mutually agree to extend the time limits in any step of the grievance procedure.
4. Meeting with Grievance Support Person
An employee may consult with their support person during working hours for a reasonable period of time for the purpose of processing a grievance, provided that this does not interfere with scheduled work activities.
Settlement of grievances may or may not be retroactive as the equities of particular cases may demand. In any case, except for administrative errors relating to the payment of compensation, the maximum period of retroactivity allowed shall be a date not earlier than 60 calendar days prior to the date of initiation of the written grievance in Step One. Graduate assistants who voluntarily terminate their employment will have their grievances immediately withdrawn and will not benefit by any later settlement of a group grievance. Graduation or the expiration of a previous employment contract shall not be considered voluntary termination for purposes of this section; however, the available remedies under such circumstances may be limited.
6. Exclusive Procedure
This grievance procedure shall be exclusive and shall replace any other grievance procedure for adjustment of disputes arising from the Graduate Assistant’s employment.
7. Group Grievances
Grievances that involve like circumstances and facts for multiple grievants may be consolidated by mutual agreement.
8. Record Keeping and Reporting
The Department of Human Resources shall file the results of all appeals with the Secretary of the University for the archival record. The Department of Human Resources shall also provide copies of Step Three appeals to the Dean of the Graduate School. The Dean of the Graduate School shall share information about the number, kind, and outcomes of Step Three grievances with the Graduate Faculty Committee at the request of the committee or when the Dean deems it appropriate.