Type of Policy
Administrative
Policy No
7.3
Last Revised
Review Date
Policy Owner
Human Resources
Contact Name
Ivy B. Gardner
Contact Title
Director of Employee Relations
Contact Email
ivy.gardner@ohr.gatech.edu
Reason for Policy

The Georgia Institute of Technology is committed to the fair treatment of our employees. Accordingly, the Institute will appoint an Impartial Board of Review ("IBR") to hear termination appeals from regular employees, excluding those employed in provisional or temporary status, to ensure the proper processes and procedures have been followed in the event an employee has been terminated for cause.

Policy Statement

The Impartial Board of Review process described herein may be used only in cases dealing with terminations for discipline or cause.

Scope

Entities Affected By This Policy

All classified employees of the Georgia Institute of Technology are covered by this policy.

Who Should Read This Policy

All classified employees within the Georgia Institute of Technology should be aware of this policy.

Policy Terms

Provisional Status
An employee hired to fill a regular position shall serve the first six (6) months of employment in the University System on a provisional basis. An employee may be terminated at any time during the provisional period without a right of appeal.

Temporary Status
Employees who are not employed as "regular" employees are "temporary" employees. Institutions may hire temporary employees directly or may elect to obtain the services of temporary employees through outside organizations that provide temporary services. Temporary employees generally shall be employed for a period no longer than six (6) calendar months.

Termination for Cause
The termination of employment for misconduct or other serious offense.

Procedures

Overview
The policy is intended to explain the Impartial Board of Review and the appeal process when disputes cannot be resolved through normal administrative channels of the Institute.

According to the University System of Georgia's grievance policy, the following types of grievances are prohibited:

  • Terminations or layoffs because of lack of work or elimination of position
  • Investigations or decisions reached under the Institute's Harassment Policy
  • Terminations that occurred during the six (6)-month provisional period
  • Terminations due to a reorganization, program modification, or financial exigency (such employees may apply to the Board of Regents for review)
  • The issue underlying the grievance is a charge of discrimination on the basis of race, sex, age, disability or religion (see the Equal Opportunity Complaint Policy for more details).
  • The issues being grieved have been previously heard by an administrative panel at the institution.

Request for Hearing
The grievant must follow the steps listed in their letter of termination if they wish to file an appeal. Failure to do so will constitute a waiver of the grievant's right to appeal.

The first level of appeal will be to the manager of the person who signed the termination letter. The grievant shall submit their appeal in writing indicating specifically why they believe the decision to terminate was improper and should be reversed. The manager may also meet with the employee if they believe it would be beneficial in their review of the matter.

If the manager decides to uphold the termination, they will provide written notification of that decision to the grievant to include information on who to contact in the event they wish to appeal to the Impartial Board of Review.

Should the grievant allege any form of race, age, sex, color, national origin, sexual orientation, or disability discrimination as a basis for the grievance, the case will be immediately referred to an investigator within OWS for review. Upon written notification of a "no finding" disposition, OWS will automatically proceed with scheduling a hearing.

OWS will make every effort to schedule a hearing date within thirty (30) to forty-five (45) working days from the time that a grievant officially appeals to the IBR. Should extenuating circumstances exist for the grievant, s/he may submit a written request for the hearing to be scheduled beyond this period; however, no hearing for any reason will be scheduled later than sixty (60) working days from the time the grievant submits a written appeal. The grievant's failure to appear for a scheduled hearing will constitute a waiver of the right to appeal. A grievant shall not be harassed, intimidated, or otherwise penalized for filing an appeal.

Hearing Officer
OWS will provide the Hearing Officer with a copy of the grievant's hearing request and will notify both parties of the date, time, and place of the Hearing Officer's briefing and of the hearing.

IBR Board Member Selection
The Board will consist of three panel members selected from a standing committee of employees who will receive training on the hearing process. Members of the standing committee will serve a three year term. OHR will select the committee members to serve on the panel and will ensure that members of the committee who are in the same department as the grievant or may have a conflict of interest are not chosen as panel members for that case. Additionally, the grievant and management representative may object to any panel member who they believe, with reasonable cause, may be incapable of remaining impartial throughout the process. These concerns must be shared with the hearing officer prior to the hearing so that he/she can make a decision on the matter.

Witnesses and Evidence
Evidence shall be limited to witness testimony and documentation that is directly relevant to the employment action in dispute.

The Board is not bound by the strict legal rules of evidence and may receive any evidence of probative value in order to determine the issues involved; however, every effort is made to obtain the most reliable evidence available. All substantive matters related to the admissibility of evidence or procedural matters are decided by the presiding Hearing Officer.

Witnesses for the IBR hearing must be current employees of Georgia Tech, regular or temporary, in good standing. Former employees, students, and others may submit a relevant affidavit subject to the approval of the Hearing Officer. The following groups of individuals may not serve as witnesses:

  • Students
  • Members of the staff of the Office of the President (direct and indirect reports)
  • Members of the staff of OHR
  • Members of the staff of the Office of Legal Affairs

The Hearing Officer may approve an exception to this rule if such witnesses are directly relevant to the issues raised by the grievance.

Witnesses shall not be harassed, intimidated, or otherwise penalized for appearing at a hearing. The grievant and management representatives must obtain their own witnesses. Witnesses may elect not to participate.

A list of witnesses and a copy of any documentation must be submitted to OWS at least one (1) week in advance of the hearing date or at the Hearing Officer's briefing of the parties, whichever is later. Copies of the documentation are required at the hearing. Both parties are expected to provide copies of any approved documentation they intend to use at the hearing.

Each party shall have the opportunity to present approved documentation or other evidence which they deem appropriate and relevant to the grievance.

Advisors
The grievant may have an advisor present at the hearing who can communicate only with the grievant during the hearing. The advisor must be a current Georgia Tech employee, regular or temporary in good standing. This advisor cannot be an attorney, a student, a member of the Office of the President, a member of the staff of OHR, or a member of the staff of the Office of Legal Affairs. Management ordinarily may not have an advisor during the hearing.

Attorneys
The grievant cannot have an attorney present during the hearing unless the grievant is being charged with a crime. If the grievant receives approval to have an attorney present because of pending criminal charges, then Georgia Tech will also have a legal representative at the hearing.

Confidentiality
Public statements and publicity about the complaint shall be avoided and the confidentiality of the hearing shall be preserved to the greatest extent permitted by law.

Hearing Process
The parties involved will be required to attend a briefing no later than one (1) week prior to the hearing. The purpose of the briefing is to review the hearing protocol and answer any questions about the process. Failure to attend the briefing or any other scheduled meeting in support of the grievance process may result in immediate loss of appeal rights. The grievant may present any relevant evidence upon approval by the Hearing Officer, including up to three (3) witnesses. The committee may request any other evidence as well as interview any other employee at its discretion.

Report of the Board
The Board's report shall be based on evidence brought forth at the hearing and all information in the grievant's official personnel file to the date of the incident or event which brought about the grievance. The grievant's entire personnel file will be available to the Board if requested. The Board, after considering all relevant evidence, will make a recommendation in the form of a written report. This report will be submitted to the President for the final Institute decision. The grievant will be informed of the final Institute decision in writing and advised of any further right to appeal.