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Grievance Procedures

Coverage

All hourly, non-academic student employees and resident advisors who are enrolled at Cornell University or employed between consecutive semesters of enrollment and are employed by a department of the University are covered by this procedure. Students who are alleging unfair hiring practices at the University should visit the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment. In the event the grievance alleges a violation related to legally prohibited discrimination and/or Cornell's policy forbidding sexual harassment, the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations will be notified to assist in the investigation and, where appropriate, any subsequent action.

Protections

  • A student employee may use this procedure to resolve an alleged violation or misapplication of University policies or rules pertaining to employment that directly and adversely affects the student employee. This includes an alleged discrimination by an employer or supervisor on the basis of sex, race, or other legally prohibited discrimination.
  • No student employee will be discriminated against, or adversely treated, for participating in the grievance procedure.
  • A student employee has the right to be represented by a fellow employee or any other person the student employee chooses if s/he elects to grieve. The (Student) Ombudsman's Office will be available to serve as a consultant to a grieving student employee.
  • At the time a grievance form is presented, it will be dated. One dated copy will be returned immediately to the grieving student. Additional copies will be distributed in accordance with the procedure.
  • Any reasonable expense of the grievance procedure will be borne by the University with the exception that if a student employee wishes to retain a representative or counsel, s/he will bear the cost of such representation. Representatives of grieving student employees may not be discriminated against or adversely treated in any way by the University for participating in the grievance procedure.
  • Business days, for the purpose of this procedure, are defined as Mondays through Fridays when classes are in session; when classes are not in session, business days are defined as Mondays through Fridays excluding official University holidays.

Procedure Steps

Time limits may be modified or waived by mutual agreement.

STEP I

The aggrieved student should speak with his/her immediate student supervisor, (if one exists) and his/her professional, non-student manager in an attempt to resolve the grievance informally within the given employment unit. It is the responsibility of the supervisor to consult with any additional upper-level management, if necessary for the discussion and resolution of the grievance. The initial attempt at informal resolution with the student supervisor and professional manager may only be waived for instances of complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment.

Supervisors/managers are defined as all supervisory, managerial, and coordinating personnel.

STEP II

If, at any time within ten (10) business days of gaining knowledge of the facts giving rise to the grievance, the student should feel that the grievance has not been adequately resolved in Step I, s/he may submit a standard grievance form to the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment including:

  • The time and date of the aggrieved actions;
  • A general description of the policy or rule alleged to be violated or misapplied and the circumstances surrounding the grievance;
  • The name and position of the supervisor;
  • Any other information which the student considers relevant; and
  • The measures that the student employee feels are needed to rectify the situation.

In grievances where legally prohibited discrimination and/or sexual harassment is alleged, the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment will deliver a copy of the grievance to the hiring department director, with copies to the grievant and to the Director of the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations

The grieving student may refer to the Ombudsman's Office for assistance in filing the complaint.

The department director or designee receiving the complaint will investigate the matter, meet with the grievant and reply in writing to the student and the supervisor and/or manager involved, with copies to the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment, the Ombudsman's Office (if involved) and the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations, (if appropriate) within seven (7) business days of receipt of the complaint.

STEP III

Should the student feel that the grievance has not been adequately resolved in Steps I and II, s/he may file a standard Step III grievance form with the Office of Financial Aid and Student Employment (except for grievances which allege violations of University health and safety policies, in which case the student shall file the Step III grievance form with the University Health and Safety Review Council) including, but not restricted to, the reasons for the student's dissatisfaction with the resolution of the grievance to that point and the steps that had previously been followed. This complaint must be filed within five (5) business days of receiving the reply to the Step II complaint or the expiration of the Step II reply period.

The Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment or designee will make every attempt to speak with the student at the time s/he presents the grievance.

The Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment or designee will investigate the matter, meet with the grievant and reply in writing, including a description of the investigation, to the student and the supervisor and/or manager involved, with a copy to the Ombudsman's Office (if involved), and the Office of Workforce Policy and Labor Relations (if appropriate) within seven (7) business days of receipt of the complaint. Decisions of the Director of Financial Aid and Student Employment or designee are binding on management.

The grieving student may refer to the Ombudsman's Office for assistance and advice in filing the complaint.

Should no response be given in seven (7) business days, the student will have the opportunity to proceed to the next step of the grievance procedure.

STEP IV

In cases involving suspension without pay, demotion and discharge, if within five (5) business days of receipt of the reply in Step III, or the expiration of the reply period, the student should continue to feel that the grievance has not been adequately resolved, s/he may submit a written request to the Ombudsman's Office for arbitration. The Ombudsman will, within five (5) business days, and with the option of discussing the matter in advance with the grieving student employee, provide a list of seven faculty members to the student and the involved supervisor and/or manager. The names will come from a master list of those faculty members willing to arbitrate. Each party receiving the list of seven names will indicate their preferences in numerical order (1=highest, 7=lowest) within five (5) business days of receiving the list. The person receiving the lowest total points will be designated as the arbitrator by the Ombudsman.

The arbitrator will hold a hearing within ten (10) business days of his/her designation. The arbitrator will ascertain the facts of the grievance with information supplied by the grieving student, the involved supervisor and/or manager, the Director of Financial Aid Student Employment, and any other involved individuals. The arbitrator will then render a written decision for the resolution of the grievance within ten (10) business days of hearing the case. All decisions of the arbitrator are final and binding. Copies of the decision will be distributed by the Ombudsman's Office to all involved parties.

In rendering the decision, the arbitrator will have no authority to add to, subtract from, alter, or modify any policies of the University. In addition, the arbitrator may not award punitive damages.