University Support Staff Peer Review Committee Hearing Process
Revised August 8, 2014
Table of Contents
.015 Related Policies
.020 Scope of Authority
.050 Time Limits
.090 Legal Counsel
.120 Panel Report
The University believes that its employees are a valuable resource, and realizes that occasional employment conflicts are inevitable when people work together. In trying to resolve employment conflicts among employees as fairly as possible, the University provides a dispute resolution process for all permanent university support staff (USS) of the University (see .130 Mediation) culminating in a full opportunity for a fair hearing before an impartial panel of university support staff in unresolved matters involving:
- Performance reviews;
- Proposed suspension with pay (decision-making leaves); not involving discrimination under PPM Chapter 3010; and
- Claims of unfair treatment not involving discrimination under PPM Chapter 3010.
An advisory appeal process is available for complaints related to discrimination, as described in PPM Chapter 3010. Consequently, any matter relating to PPM Chapter 3010 shall follow the appeal process described in PPM Chapter 3010, rather than this chapter.
While the Peer Review Committee ("P.R.C." or "Committee") is charged with the responsibility of conducting a fair hearing in the above mentioned matters, the role of the Committee and the scope of its authority depends upon the type of hearing being conducted.
- Performance Reviews - in matters involving an appeal of a USS employee's performance review, the Committee reviews the material presented, makes the final determination about the employee's performance, and completes the employee's performance review form.
- Proposed Suspension with Pay (Decision-Making Leaves) - in matters involving a USS employee's appeal of a proposed decision-making leave, the Committee reviews the relevant facts in the matter and makes a recommendation to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources. After reviewing the committee's recommendation, the Associate Vice President, Human Resources makes the final decision on whether to affirm, modify, or rescind the proposed action.
- Where a proposed decision-making leave is based upon two unsatisfactory performance reviews, the employee may appeal either the second review or the proposed action, but may not appeal both the review and the proposed disciplinary action within the University.
- Claims Of Unfair Treatment not involving proposed demotion, decision-making leave, or dismissal - in matters involving a USS employee's complaint of unfair treatment, the Committee reviews the relevant facts in the matter and makes a recommendation to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources. After reviewing the Committee's recommendation, the Associate Vice President, Human Resourcesmakes the final determination concerning the action to be taken in the matter.
- When a complaint of unfair treatment alledges discrimination based on race, color, ethnic or national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, ancestry, disability, genetic information, military status, or veteran status, KSU PPM 3010 applies and sets forth the Committee's role in an appeal of any finding or sanction under that policy (KSU PPM 3010, Policy Prohibiting Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Violence, and Stalking, and Procedure for Reviewing Complaints).
The University Support Staff Senate makes recommendations for membership on the Peer Review Committee to the Vice President in the Division of Human Capital Services (VPHC) who appoints members from the USS Senate's recommendations. The Committee is composed of 21 members, all of whom are university support staff. Membership includes a demographic cross-section of USS employees.
Appointments are for three consecutive years with seven members being replaced each year. One member is named by the VPHC on an annual basis to chair the Committee. Five members hear a given appeal, although a quorum shall be four members. The chair of the Committee selects a Panel of five members to hear a particular appeal and designates one member of the hearing Panel to serve as the Panel chair.The employee and/or the responding department may object, in writing, to any individual proposed to serve as a member of the panel and include the reasons upon which objections are based. Objections must be submitted to the VPHC no later than 48 hours prior to the hearing date. The VPHC and the Panel chair will determine whether an alternate should be appointed and will provide a written response to the objecting party.
Each year after the new Committee members have been appointed Human Resources will conduct a training session for all members of the Committee.
The following time limitations apply to appeals heard by the Committee:
- Employee Performance Review Appeals- within seven calendar days of receiving formal notice of the rating, the employee must address an appeal in writing to the Associate Vice President, Human Resources (AVPHR), or his or her designee. The employee is encouraged, but not required, to sign the performance review form before initiating an appeal. Within seven calendar days of receiving the employee's written notice of appeal, the matter shall be scheduled for hearing with the Committee. Within fourteen calendar days of receiving the employees notice of the appeal, the P.R.C. Panel shall hear the appeal and assign a rating for the employee. The Panel will resume in open session at the stated time and place to take action on the appeal.
- In the event that an appeal cannot be scheduled and/or held within the time limitation described in the paragraph above, the AVPHR or his or her designee may extend the time limit for holding the appeal up to 30 calendar days after the appeal has been filed.
- Appeals of proposed Suspension with Pay (Decision-Making Leaves) - The AVPHR will set a deadline for the employee to appeal the proposed action in writing. Within five working days of receiving the employee's notice of appeal, the appeal shall be referred to the Committee. Within 10 working days of receiving the appeal, the P.R.C. Panel will hear the matter and make a recommendation to the AVPHR. The AVPHR will make a final decision on the proposed action and will notify the parties within five working days of receiving the Panel's recommendation.
- Complaints of unfair treatment - within 60 calendar days after becoming aware of the problem, the employee must address an appeal in writing to the AVPHR. Within five working days of receiving the employee's notice of appeal, the appeal will be referred to the Committee. Within 10 working days of scheduling the appeal for hearing, the P.R.C. Panel will hear the matter and make a recommendation to the AVPHR. The AVPHR will make a final decision in the matter and notify the parties within five working days of receiving the Panel's recommendation.
As soon as the panel has been appointed, the AVPHR or his or her designee will notify both parties of the names of the Committee members.
To protect the impartiality of the Committee and the hearing process, neither the employee nor the responding department will have any oral or written contact regarding the hearing with any member of the hearing Panel prior to the actual hearing. Any questions on the hearing procedures should be addressed to Human Resources.
The employee and the responding department may choose to ask other individuals to speak at the hearing who can make a material contribution to the employee's or department's story. The following guidelines govern the contribution of witnesses at hearings:
- Each party is responsible for contacting its prospective witnesses to make them aware of the following:
- Each individual must volunteer to appear before the hearing Panel. The Panel does not have subpoena power. Employees having personal knowledge concerning the merits of a complaint or grievance should voluntarily appear when requested.
- Those individuals who are Kansas State University employees will remain in pay status for the time required to appear before the Panel.
- Witnesses should be present when the hearing begins, although Human Resources will coordinate appearance times for multiple witnesses.
- Witnesses, other than the employee and the departmental representative, will not be permitted in the hearing room until they speak to the Panel.
- Witnesses will be excused to return to their duties as soon as their testimony is completed.
- Witnesses for the employee and the department are expected to make a substantial contribution to the employee's or department's story by their testimony at the hearing.
Both parties shall deliver a list of witnesses and a copy of any written material they plan to present at the hearing to Human Resources at least 48 hours prior to the hearing, or at such time as is designated by Human Resources. Each party will receive from Human Resources a copy of the other party's witness list and written materials, as well as any other information pertinent to the hearing, at least one day prior to the hearing.
Panel members will also receive a copy of each party's written material at least one day prior to the hearing.
Normally, neither party will have legal counsel present during these informal proceedings. However, the employee desiring to have legal counsel present at the hearing must provide notice to the AVPHR, or his or her designee at least 48 hours prior to the hearing. The AVPHR, or his or her designee will inform the hearing Panel and the responding department, who may also choose to have legal counsel present. During the hearing, legal counsel's participation will be limited to advising the client; the legal counsel may not act as a spokesperson.
The employee shall appear personally throughout the hearing, and normally will serve as his or her own spokesperson in presenting information in support of the appeal. However, an employee may have another Kansas State University USS employee voluntarily serve as the spokesperson.
An employee choosing to have a spokesperson will provide Human Resources with the name of the spokesperson at least 48 hours prior to the hearing, or at such time as is designated by Human Resources. If the employee has a spokesperson, the employee still will be present throughout the hearing, but will be required to act only as a witness. An employee serving as his or her own spokesperson may have a fellow Kansas State University employee or another person voluntarily be present during the hearing to serve as an advisor, although an advisor may not also serve as a witness. A Kansas State University employee serving as a spokesperson or advisor is required to use approved leave to attend the hearing.
An appropriate representative of the responding department will be present throughout the hearing and may present information in support of the employment decision. The appropriate departmental representative(s) for an appeal is/are as follows:
- For employee performance reviews, the appropriate departmental representatives are the rater and reviewer.
- For proposed decision-making leave, the appropriate departmental representative(s) is/are the person(s) who made the decision to take the proposed action.
- For claims of unfair treatment, the appropriate departmental representative(s) is/are the person(s) who the employee claims has unfairly treated the employee.
Only the spokesperson for each party will make the first and last statements, and question witnesses.
- The hearing will be open unless the employee requests a hearing in executive session.
- The hearing will be conducted informally and the Panel will have complete discretion in deciding any procedural questions that arise during the hearing. The Panel will accept any evidence, information, or testimony which is pertinent to the appeal and will help the Panel understand and evaluate the issue before it. The chairperson will determine the relevance and materiality of the evidence offered, and the legal rules of evidence will not apply.
- Human Resources will facilitate the hearing by providing procedural instructions and guidance to allow the Panel to concentrate on the information presented by the parties. The facilitator exerts no influence on the Panel's decision regarding the hearing.
- Each party may make a first ("opening") statement, the purpose of which is to give the Panel a brief overview of the party's case to be presented. The employee will be given the first opportunity to make a brief statement, and each party will have up to 15 minutes to speak.
- After first statements, if any, have been given, each party, beginning with the employee, will present its information, material, and witnesses to the Committee. Panel members may ask questions of anyone after the first statements have been given.
- After each party has presented its information, and the Panel has been able to sufficiently question all parties involved, the employee and department may make a final ("closing") statement, with the department being given the first opportunity. The purpose of the final statement is to present to the Panel a brief summary of the important aspects of the case, and to clarify what the party is seeking from the Panel. Each party has up to 15 minutes to present its final remarks.
- When the hearing is completed and final procedures have been explained, the Panel will recess for an executive meeting to deliberate. The Panel will resume in open session at the stated time and place to take action on the appeal.
In making a decision or recommendation in an appeal, the Panel may consider any information it feels will be helpful in arriving at its conclusion, including but not limited to investigating a work site, questioning individuals that the parties did not present as witnesses, and reviewing other rules and documentation. In the event the Panel questions individuals not presented by the parties as witnesses, the parties have the opportunity to be present and to question those persons called by the Panel.
- EMPLOYEE PERFORMANCE REVIEWS
- Within 14 calendar days of scheduling the appeal for hearing, the Panel will make a decision and complete and sign a new performance review for the employee. The Panel's performance review will be transmitted to the AVPHR to become part of the employee's official personnel record.
- PROPOSED SUSPENSION WITH PAY (DECISION-MAKING LEAVES)
- Within 10 working days of scheduling the appeal for hearing, the Panel will hear the matter and prepare a report which will serve as its recommendation to the AVPHR. The report will contain the factual findings of the Panel and the reasons for the recommendation. The AVPHR will consider the Panel's recommendation and transmit a final decision to both parties within five working days of receiving the Panel's recommendation.
- CLAIMS OF UNFAIR TREATMENT
- Within 10 working days of scheduling the appeal for hearing, the Panel will hear the appeal and prepare a report which will serve as a recommendation to the AVPHR. The report will contain the factual findings of the Panel and the reasons for the recommendation. The AVPHR will consider the Panel's recommendation and notify both parties of the final decision within five working days of receiving the Panel's recommendation.
The role of the Human Resources staff in USS employee grievances is: 1) to assist the parties in resolving issues in dispute and, 2) when an appeal is made to the Peer Review Committee, to facilitate the appeal process to ensure that the entire hearing process runs smoothly and efficiently.
Human Resourcesother than the AVPHR, do not have decision-making authority in employment issues brought to the P.R.C., and therefore Human Resources is able to offer mediation in helping the parties resolve the dispute prior to an appeal hearing.
Mediation is an informal and confidential process in which an impartial third-party sits down with the parties in conflict and helps them look for mutually acceptable solutions to the issues in dispute. The mediator does not make the decisions, but instead, works with the parties to identify their needs and interests and to develop creative options for resolving the conflict.
Mediation will be available to the employee and department by Human Resources at any time prior to the appeal hearing, and will be offered at the time an appeal is made.
Questions regarding hearing procedures should be directed to the Human Resources staff at 785-532-6277.