PPSM 70 Complaint Resolution Procedures

UCSC LOCAL IMPLEMENTING PROCEDURES

Revised 7/2017

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
    This local implementing procedure provides campus direction and authority for resolving complaints made by employees in the Professional & Support Staff (PSS) and Managers & Senior Professionals (MSP) personnel groups pursuant to the University of California’s Personnel Policy for Staff Members, Complaint Resolution Policy.
  2. ADMINISTRATION OF POLICY
    Employee & Labor Relations is the office designated to administer PPSM 70, including responsibility for the time limits for filing and appealing complaints, and for the official receipt of written complaints and appeals.
  3. ELIGIBILITY
    With the exception of current and former per diem appointees, the following employees are eligible to file a complaint under this policy:
    • PSS employees

    • MSP employees appointed at Manager 3 and below and equivalent positions

    • Former PSS employees who were involuntarily separated

    • Former MSP employees appointed at Manager 3 and below and equivalent positions who were involuntarily separated

    • Former PSS employees separated by layoff and eligible for recall or preference for reemployment as provided in Personnel Policies for Staff Member 60 (Layoff and Reduction in Time) may file a complaint alleging violations of recall and/or preference for reemployment rights.

    • Contract employees may be eligible to file a complaint depending on the terms of the contract.
       Who is Ineligible to File?
    • Employees who resign before filing a complaint.

    • Employees who retire before filing a complaint, unless the employee retired after an involuntary separation.

    • Employees classified as Manager 3 and above. Complaints for Manager 3s and above will be handled in accordance with PPSM 70, Section III.A.2-3.

  1. INFORMAL RESOLUTION
    It is in the interest of everyone--staff members and the University--to resolve differences as quickly and as informally as possible. In general, employees are encouraged to make a good faith effort to resolve problems through informal discussions with their immediate supervisor. At any stage after a complaint has been filed, either the employee or the University may propose to resolve the complaint informally.

    Pursuing informal resolution does not extend the timeline to file a complaint.

  2. PROCESS OVERVIEW
    1. Complaint
      A complaint is a written claim by an employee regarding a specific management action(s) that is alleged to have:
      1. adversely affected that employee’s existing terms and conditions of employment in a material way, or
      2. adversely affected that employee’s existing terms and conditions of employment in a material way and violated a provision of the Personnel Policies for Staff Members (PPSM).

      Employees are not eligible to file a complaint over an action that has not yet occurred (i.e. an action that could impact future terms and conditions of employment).

      Management actions that affect an employee’s terms and conditions of employment in a material way include, but are not limited to, termination, discipline, and non-selection for transfer or promotion.
    2. Filing Requirements
      To file a complaint, an employee must submit a completed complaint form found here. The complainant is encouraged to submit any and all attachments, documents, and evidence supporting the employee’s complaint to assist the University in processing the complaint efficiently. Once a complaint is filed, employees may not amend their complaint to include additional complaints, policy violations, or other causes of action.

      Complaints may be sent by mail or email to the addresses outlined below in Section VI. A complaint is considered “filed” on the date it is postmarked or the time-stamp on an emailed document.

      Employees who do not initially meet the filing requirements will be provided with an opportunity to perfect their complaint. Employees must engage in the perfection process. An employee will be given an additional 15 calendar days to file perfect their timely filed, but technically flawed complaint. Failure to perfect the complaint or participate in the perfection process will render the complaint ineligible for processing. The University will notify the employee in writing if the complaint is being dismissed for failure to perfect or participate in the complaint process.

    3. Time Limits
      The complainant must file a written, initial complaint with the Employee and Labor Relations office within 30 calendar days after the date on which the complainant knew or could reasonably be expected to have known of the event or action that gave rise to the complaint, or within 30 calendar days after the date of involuntary separation from University employment, whichever is earlier. Appeals to Step II or Step III must be filed within the time limits as stated in Section VI. below. Complaints received after 5:00 p.m. will be processed on the next business day. Time limits that fall on a Saturday, Sunday, or University holiday are extended to the next business day.

      Untimely complaints are ineligible for processing.

    4. Retaliation
      It is a violation of University policy to retaliate against any employee for using or participating in the complaint resolution process.
  3.  PROCESS TO FILE A FORMAL COMPLAINT
    1. Complete Claim Form

      The complainant must submit a written complaint to the Employee and Labor Relations Manager by completing the Complaint Claim Form. The complainant is encouraged to submit any and all attachments, documents, and evidence supporting the employee’s complaint to assist the University in processing the complaint efficiently. The form may be submitted by e-mail or U.S. Mail.

      Employee and Labor Relations E-mail: elrinfo@ucsc.edu
      Employee and Labor Relations Mail:
        Staff Human Resources Employee Relations UC Santa Cruz
        1156 High Street
        Santa Cruz, CA 95064

      Multiple complaints regarding the same or related action or issue, arising out of actions taken or events occurring in the same department, may be consolidated into one complaint for review under this policy.

    2. Initial Assessment - Admissibility Determination
      The Employee & Labor Relations Manager or their designee will determine whether a complaint is eligible for Step 1 review and will send an acknowledgment letter to the complainant or their representative specifying what, if any, issues have been accepted for review. Complaints will be acknowledged within five (5) calendar days of their receipt.

      If the complaint is incomplete or does not contain sufficient detail, the Employee & Labor Relations Manager or their designee will notify the complainant and may request the additional information (the “perfection” process). The Employee & Labor Relations Manager or their designee shall grant up to an additional fifteen (15) days for timely but technically flawed complaints to be corrected and resubmitted.
    3. Step I: Formal Review
      If eligible for review, Employee & Labor Relations will select a Step 1 Reviewer to review the employee’s complaint. The Step 1 Reviewer will provide a written response to the complainant, which may include any relevant facts and reasons for granting, in whole or in part, or denying, in whole or in part, the requested remedy. If the Step I decision does not grant the requested remedy in whole or in part, the decision will also include information about the complainant’s right to appeal. Step 1 decisions will be issued to the complainant along with instructions for further appeal within 30 calendar days after the complaint was acknowledged or 35 calendar days from the date the perfected complaint was resubmitted for processing, whichever is later. Should the Step 1 Reviewer need additional time to respond to the complaint, the University can grant one extension to the Step 1 reviewer for another 30 days; the complainant must agree, in writing, to any further extensions. The complainant will be notified in writing of any extensions provided to the Step 1 Reviewer.
    4. Step II: Appeal - Administrative Review OR Factfinding for PSS and MSP Employees

      If the complainant believes that any of the claims alleged in the complaint were not satisfactorily resolved at Step I, the complainant may file a Step I Written Appeal within 15 calendar days following the Step I response. Step II written appeals must be submitting in writing and must be submitted directly to the Employee & Labor Relations Manager by using the email elrinfo@ucsc.edu.

      The Step II Written Appeal must contain the following information in order to be processed:

      • Employee name
      • Complaint Number
      • Explanation for why the employee is appealing the matter to Step II, including what allegations in the complaint were not satisfactorily resolved at Step I
      • The requested remedy
      • Choose between either an Administrative Review or Factfinding as defined below, or for Career Employees only, you may request to proceed directly to Step III for hearing provided the complainant alleged a policy violation eligible for Step 3 review.
            
              At the time of appeal, the complainant must select from the following options:
      1. Administrative Review
        If eligible for Step II review, a Step II responder will be selected by the Employee & Labor Relations Manager or designee to review the complaint. The Step II responder must convene a Step II meeting within 30 calendar days of the appeal to Step II. The meeting, at which the Step II responder presides, is held with the complainant. The Step II responder may also interview other individuals the Step II responder determines would be helpful to obtain sufficient facts to render a fair decision. The purpose of the Step II meeting is to provide the complainant and their representative with a fair opportunity to present evidence in support of the employee’s complaint. The Step II reviewer shall issue a written response to the complaint within 30 calendar days after the conclusion of the Step II meeting.

        The decision is final and binding unless the complaint is eligible for review at Step III.

      2. Factfinding (Only Available to PSS Employees at Step II)
        The Employee & Labor Relations Manager or designee will appoint a Factfinder to conduct an investigation to gather relevant information and prepare a factfinding report. The factfinder investigates and writes a report of the facts relevant to the complaint. The complainant will have an opportunity to meet with the factfinder and provide any evidence relevant to the complainant’s claim. The factfinder may also interview other witnesses as necessary to make relevant findings of fact. The factfinder’s report shall include the following:
        • a clear statement of the issue(s) under review,

        • the alleged violations of policy, if any,

        • the positions of the parties,

        • a brief summary of the information received,

        • the findings of fact, and

        • the applicable personnel policies.

        The factfinder’s written report should not include any recommendations or remedies. The written report, including any and all relevant documents that were reviewed in addition to the original complaint, will be sent to the complainant, her/his representative, and the Employee & Labor Relations Manager within 45 calendar days of the date the factfinder was appointed.

        The Employee & Labor Relations Manager renders a decision based on the facts in the factfinder’s report and shall issue a written response to the complaint within 30 calendar days after receipt of the factfinder’s report. If the employee elects to request a factfinding review at Step II, the Step II decision is final and binding.
      3. Proceed Directly to Step III (Career Employees Only)
        A career employee may select this option to proceed directly to Step III for hearing, provided that the complaint alleged a policy violation eligible for review at Step III. The University must agree with the employee’s selection to proceed directly to Step III. Absent the University’s consent, a Step II administrative review will occur.
    1. STEP III: Hearing (PSS Career Employees Only) or Evidentiary Factfinding (MSP Career Employees Only – Manager 3 and Below)
      1. Eligibility
        For PSS Employees: If a complainant’s claims have not been resolved to the employee’s satisfaction, the employee can submit the unresolved claims for a final and binding decision by a hearing officer, provided that the employee did not select the factfinding option in Step II.

        For MSP Employees: Only the following types of claims are eligible for Step III evidentiary factfinding: Nondiscrimination in Employment (PPSM 12); Termination and Job Abandonment (PPSM 64), provided that the complaint alleged violation of Section III.C of that policy; Medical Separation (PPSM 66); and retaliation in violation of this complaint resolution policy. If an MSP employee files an eligible appeal for Step III factfinding, the procedure for factfinder selection and the final report shall be made in accordance with this section.

        complainant’s written request for Step III review (MSP and PSS employees) must be filed with Employee & Labor Relations to elrinfo@ucsc.edu within 15 calendar days of the date that the Step II written decision was issued. A written Step III appeal must contain the following:

        • Employee Name
        • Complaint number
        • Explanation for why the employee is appealing the matter to Step III
        • The issues not satisfactorily resolved at Step I and Step II
        • The proposed remedy

        The Employee & Labor Relations Manager or designee determines whether the complaint is eligible for Step III review.
      2. Hearing Process (PSS Employees only)
        • The complainant may select to have a University or non-University hearing officer. University hearing officers serve without cost to the complainant whereas the costs of non-University hearing officers are split equally between the University and the complainant. After the complainant’s selection, the Manager of Employee & Labor Relations will make the necessary arrangements for the selection of both University and non-University hearing officers.
        • The hearing process will provide an opportunity for the employee (or the employee’s representative) and the University (or the University’s representative) to examine witnesses and to submit relevant evidence.

        • The hearing shall be recorded by the University if no stenographic record is agreed to by the parties in advance. The recordings are for the use of the hearing officer and shall remain the property of the University. Expenses for stenographic services will be borne by the party requesting such services, unless both parties agree otherwise in advance.

        • Unless both parties otherwise agree, the hearing shall be closed to everyone other than the hearing officer, the employee, the employee's representative, the department head/designee and/or supervisor, the department's representative, a Human Resources representative, and the person designated to record the hearing.

        • Witnesses shall be excluded from the hearing except when testifying.

        • Except by written mutual agreement of the parties, only issues that were accepted for review in the formal complaint may be introduced at the hearing. In addition, the parties shall attempt to stipulate in writing to the statement of the issues to be submitted for review at the hearing no less than seven (7) calendar days before the hearing.

        • Each party shall, upon request, provide the other with copies of the materials to be introduced at the hearing and the names of witnesses who will testify on the party's behalf. Such materials and names of witnesses shall be exchanged at least seven calendar days prior to the hearing.

        • The hearing officer shall provide a written decision to the employee, via Human Resources, within 30 calendar days of the close of the hearing. The written decision shall be final and binding.

        • The hearing officer is limited to restoring the pay, benefits, or rights lost as a result of the policy violation described in the complaint, less compensation from any sources that mitigate the loss. A hearing officer may not award interest or attorneys’ fees. The hearing officer may not add to, delete from, or otherwise modify the provisions of Staff Policies. The hearing officer does not have the authority to issue subpoenas or order a stenographic record.

        • Human Resources will provide each party with a copy of the decision and a copy of the materials upon which the decision was based.

      3. Evidentiary Factfinding Process (MSP Employees, Manager 3 and Below only)
        • The University reserves the right to appoint a University factfinder who is not a University employee. In evidentiary fact-finding, each party shall have the right to appear personally before the factfinder, to present evidence, and to examine and cross-examine witnesses under oath or affirmation. Evidence may be oral or documentary. Should the University select a factfinder who is not an employee, the Manager of Employee & Labor Relations will make necessary arrangements to secure the factfinder.
        • Each party shall, upon request, provide the other with copies of materials to be introduced at the evidentiary factfinding hearing, and the names of witnesses who will testify on the party’s behalf. To the extent possible, such materials and names of witnesses shall be exchanged no less than seven (7) calendar days prior to the factfinding hearing.

        • The Manager of Employee & Labor Relations or designee shall coordinate the time and place of the evidentiary factfinding hearing. Once a hearing has been scheduled, postponements will only be granted for good cause (i.e., unforeseen/ unanticipated circumstances).

        • The hearing shall be recorded by the University if no stenographic record is agreed to by the parties in advance. The recordings are for the use of the factfinder and shall remain the property of the University. Expenses for stenographic services will be borne by the party requesting such services, unless both parties agree otherwise in advance.

        • The Employee & Labor Relations Manager and his/her designee shall have the right to observe the proceedings. Other observers shall not be permitted except upon the mutual agreement of the parties to the proceeding.

        • The factfinding report shall contain the following information: statement of the issues accepted for review; positions of the parties; findings of fact; and policy violations, if any. The report shall be transmitted to the Employee and Labor Relations Office within 45 calendar days after the conclusion of the factfinding.

        • The Employee & Labor Relations Office will forward the report to the person in the next higher level of authority in the reporting hierarchy for a final decision, who shall take into consideration the factfinder’s report and provide the reasons for accepting, modifying, or denying the requested remedy. A final, written decision shall be issued no later than 30 days after the transmission of the factfinding report. The Employee & Labor Relations Office shall forward the final decision and the factfinder’s report to the employee, the employee’s representative (if any), and the department head.

        • The Employee & Labor Relations Office shall forward the final decision and the factfinder’s report to the employee, the employee’s representative (if any), and the department head.

  4. SETTLEMENT AGREEMENTS
    Offers of settlement, or statements made in the course of settlement discussions, shall not be admissible by the complainant as evidence of the University’s wrongdoing at any stage of the complaint process.

    The terms of complaint settlement shall be subject to approval in advance by the Employee & Labor Relations Manager or designee. Such settlement agreements normally shall be reduced to writing.
  5. EARLY RESOLUTION
    Early Resolution is a way for the University to resolve a complaint in favor of the employee without going through the entire complaint resolution process. This may conserve University resources and resolve the complaint more quickly, and it is within the University’s sole discretion to trigger the Early Resolution process. Early Resolution is only granted for certain complaints that are eligible for review at Step III because the make whole remedy for these complaints is easily identifiable. Please review PPSM 70, Section III(B)(8) for more details.
  6. SEXUAL HARASSMENT COMPLAINTS
    Any complaint filed under this policy regarding sexual harassment or sexual violence will be referred to the local Title IX Office for processing. Employees have the option to file a complaint regarding sexual harassment under both PPSM 70 and the UCOP Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. Any complaint filed under this policy regarding sexual violence or sexual harassment will be referred to the local Title IX Office for processing under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment. The review conducted under that policy will serve as Step I under this policy. After that process has concluded, the employee may submit a written appeal to Step II under this policy if there are sexual violence or sexual harassment claims that were not resolved to the employee’s satisfaction. The investigative report issued under the Policy on Sexual Violence and Sexual Harassment may be used as evidence in proceedings under this policy.

  7. DISCRIMINATION, HARASSMENT, RETALIATION, AND REASONABLE ACCOMMODATION COMPLAINTS
    • Employees who believe they may have been discriminated against based on a protected class as defined in the UC Nondiscrimination Policy (PPSM 12) or retaliated against as a result of opposing discrimination, participating in a discrimination complaint investigation or requesting a reasonable accommodation have the option of either filing a PPSM 70 Complaint or filing a formal complaint directly with the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI). This means that complainants cannot file a PPSM 70 complaint and a complaint with ODEI on the same set of issues at the same time.
      • ODEI is the campus’ subject matter expert to investigate and attempt to resolve complaints involving discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and failure to provide a reasonable accommodation. Should a complainant file with ODEI directly, ODEI will determine whether an investigation is warranted. Once ODEI renders a decision on a complaint, it is not subject to appeal externally or via the PPSM 70 process. Complaints filed with ODEI are not subject to the PPSM 70 30- day timeline for filing.
      • For more information about filing a complaint with ODEI, please visit diversity.ucsc.edu or call (831) 459-3676.
    • If an employee chooses to file a PPSM 70 complaint involving harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and/or the University’s failure to provide a reasonable accommodation, the procedures outlined in sections V-VI will apply. An employee choosing this path must complete the complaint form as relevant to the employee’s claims. The 30-day timeline for filing will apply. Failure to complete the complaint form, perfect a defective complaint, and/or abide by the 30-day timeline will render the complaint ineligible for processing.