Complaints and Grievances

The Department of Human Resources, together with the University Staff Council would like to present an ongoing series of executive summaries that will showcase the new policies adopted as of July 1, 2015 under the University Personnel System (UPS). This is the first of those summaries which we hope will lead to a clear understanding of the intent of the new policies, how they work, and how they differ from what went before.

1. University Staff Complaint Procedures

Employees and members of the public may submit complaints about University Staff employees for conduct that violates the UWM Code of Conduct or other rules, policies or laws.

The individual who wishes to lodge a complaint must put his or her concerns in writing, and submit them to the Personnel Representative or the Dean or Division Head of the person(s) being complained about. Complaints may also be submitted to the Employment Relations Manager in the Department of Human Resources.

In all cases, the complaint will be referred for investigation to the Personnel Representative of the School, College or Division, the Dean or Division Head of the School, College or Division, or even to the Provost or Vice Chancellor if that is most appropriate.

If someone has knowledge of a crime being committed, it should be reported to the UWM Police.

What did we have in the past?

  • The University Staff has not had a formal complaint procedure in the past.

2. University Staff Grievance Policy and Procedures

University Staff employees may bring a grievance to complain about working conditions, or to appeal disciplinary actions. A formal grievance must be submitted on the Employee Grievance Form at each step in the process.

While an informal dispute resolution or informal discussion with the supervisor, the Ombuds Council or the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is recommended, grievances concerning working conditions, discipline actions and layoffs can begin the formal appeal process at Step One. (Dismissal appeals may begin with Step Two).

A Step One grievance must be filed not later than 30 days from the time the grievant became aware of the situation. It must be submitted to the grievant’s department head, director, dean or other appropriate administrator. That administrator must meet with the grievant within 30 days of receipt, and answer within seven more days.

Working condition grievances cannot be appealed beyond this Step.

If the grievant is not satisfied with the answer at Step One, there are two possible procedures for proceeding to Step Two.

Two Step Two procedures. If the grievant was a “classified permanent” employee on July 1, 2015, he or she can file a Step Two grievance using a procedure very much like what has been in use for many years. The Step Two grievance is filed with the Department of Human Resources, and heard by the Employee Relations Manager.

An appeal to Step Three may then be made to the Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission (WERC), which will appoint a hearing examiner. If the grievant was not a classified permanent employee on July 1, 2015, OR if he or she would just like to use another process, there is an alternative Step Two.

Within 10 days of the Step One answer, the grievant may file an appeal with the Department of Human Resources to have the issue heard by the University Staff Council (USC) Grievance Committee.

The USC Grievance Committee is a panel chosen by the USC, which will make certain there are no conflicts of interest between the panel members and the grievant.

The USC Grievance Committee must hear the grievance within 30 days of the filing, and answer within 14 more. The USC Grievance Committee will make a recommendation to the Provost and Vice Chancellor, who renders the final decision.

There is no appeal beyond the USC Grievance Committee except for appeals of dismissals, which may be appealed to the UW System Board of Regents.

What did we have in the past?

  • There has been a “classified staff” grievance procedure for many decades, both in the union contracts and in the Wisconsin Administrative Code. The procedure included an informal Step (sometimes called a “Prefiling” step); a Step One appealed to the department head, director, dean or other administrator. The Step Two grievance was filed with the Department of Human Resources, and heard by the Employee Relations Manager, and Step Three was an appeal to the WERC which appointed a hearing examiner or arbitrator.

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