The purpose of this working procedure is to outline basic
information on conduct of grievance hearings that will be efficient,
effective and fair to all parties. The body that will hear all
institute grievances and take appropriate decisions is the Standing
Committee for Grievance Redressal (hereafter called the Grievance
This document covers specific procedures that govern Rajiv Gandhi
Centre of Biotechnology's (RGCB's) grievance policy and procedure.
Included are the roles of the respective participants in the grievance
(including the roles of Grievance Committee members, Grievance
Committee Chair, grievant, respondent and observers), the purpose of
the pre-hearing conference, the conduct of the grievance hearing,
Committee deliberations and reaching a decision.
The Grievance Structure
A typical grievance involves a grievant (the person who files the
complaint and initiates the administrative grievance process), a
respondent (the individual responsible for the action that has resulted
in the grievance), a hearing Committee who hears the grievance and
makes a recommendation, and the administrative officer responsible for
the ultimate determination of the grievance.
The grievant and respondent ('the parties') are normally in an
adversarial posture and while the grievance procedure calls for certain
exchanges of information between these parties, the grievant and
respondent interact primarily with the grievance hearing Committee and
Chair. While the grievant and respondent may each have a third party
observer during the process, such individuals have no active role in
the grievance process.
The grievance committee is a five member standing committee that
hears and decides the grievance. The Chairperson makes all procedural
decisions, directs correspondence between the Committee and the
parties, deals with hearing logistics, and compiles and transmits the
record of the hearing along with the Committee's decision to the
Director for decision.
The grievance hearing consists of the following phases:
- Initial meeting of the grievance Committee
- The hearing of the grievance
- Deliberations by the Committee
- Pronouncing the decision
The initial meeting provides an opportunity for the Chairperson to
acquaint Committee members with the grievance process and answer any
questions about the process before the pre-hearing conference with the
parties. At this initial meeting the Committee reviews the grievance
petition and any request to dismiss the grievance as well as to
determine whether the grievance Committee has jurisdiction over the
grievance. If the grievance is not dismissed for lack of jurisdiction,
the initial meeting is followed by the grievance hearing, deliberations
and taking of the Committee decision. Committee decisions are forwarded
to the Director in the form of a recommendation.
The Director's decision if taken against the recommendations of the
Grievance Committee may be appealed to the institute's Governing
Council. In addition, an aggrieved individual also has the option to
seek judicial review of the final institutional decision.
Roles of the Participants
The grievance process can be initiated only by a permanent RGCB
employee (hereinafter 'grievant') who must file a timely written
grievance petition to the committee addressed to the Chairperson and
handed over or sent by registered post to the convener. A format for
preparation of the grievance petition can be downloaded at the RGCB
website. The petition must explain the exact nature of the grievance,
the identity of all parties against whom the grievance is filed, the
redress sought, and permission for the grievance Committee to examine
all needed documents of the grievant.
The grievant must also follow certain preliminary steps as a
jurisdictional prerequisite to submitting the petition to the
grievance Committee. No grievance may be entertained unless the
grievance is filed within sixty calendar days of the decision forming
the basis for the grievance and the grievant has attempted without
success to resolve the grievance with his or reporting officer,
Controller of Administration or Dean. The matter must also be within
the scope of the grievance procedure.
The grievant will bear burden of establishing the jurisdictional
grounds for the grievance and the burden of proving by a preponderance
of evidence grounds for the grievance. A preponderance of evidence is
defined as that evidence which when fairly considered produces the
stronger impression and is more convincing as to the truth when
weighed against other opposing evidence. Preponderance of evidence is
not determined by the number of witnesses or the quantity of
documentation but rather by the greater weight of all the evidence
when considering the opportunity for knowledge, the information
possessed and the manner of testifying.
If the grievant has not followed these prescribed pre-requisites in
the grievance procedure or otherwise fails to meet the requisite
burden of proof, the Committee may dismiss the grievance
A grievance may be brought only against a scientific, technical or
office administrator (the "respondent") who has rendered a decision
adversely affecting an individual's professional or academic capacity.
Adverse effect means a decision that has harmed the career or career
prospects of the grievant. Once the petition is received before the
Grievance Committee the respondent is provided the opportunity to
respond in writing to the grievance. This response joins the issue and
together with the grievance statement outlines the respective issues
in dispute between the two parties.
The grievance procedure permits each party to have a third party
observer who may attend the hearing. An observer has no active role in
the process but may advise a party so long as the grievance process is
not interrupted. An observer may be a member of the institute
community, a friend or relative or a lawyer.
Under the RGCB grievance procedure, lawyers for the parties have no
active role in the process. If a party is accompanied by a lawyer he
or she may attend the hearing but may do so only in the capacity of an
observer. An observer/lawyer may provide advice to a party, prepare
correspondence and other documents for a party, and may be present
during the proceedings so long as their presence does not disrupt the
Lawyer for Grievance Committee
The Committee may have a lawyer if specifically needed to advise
the Committee on procedural matters related to the grievance. The
lawyer will be assigned by the Director. The lawyer for the Committee
may be present at all stages of the process, including Committee
deliberations but will be subject to the same procedures as the lawyer
accompanying the grievant.
The Grievance Committee Chair
The Grievance Committee Chairperson presides over all meetings of
the Committee and at the grievance hearing. The Chairperson makes all
procedural rulings regarding the grievance process and exercises
complete control over all stages of the grievance hearing. The
Chairperson provides information to the Committee and participants
about the grievance and grievance process, schedules all hearing dates
and meetings, makes all procedural rulings regarding the grievance
process (including the number of witnesses who may be called by a
party, the length of each party's presentation, the admissibility of
evidence, witnesses, etc.) and otherwise exercises complete control
over all stages of the hearing process. The Chairperson is responsible
for ensuring that the Committee's work is completed in a timely
manner. The Chairperson also is responsible for preparing a written
report of the Committee's findings and recommendations and compiling
the official record to the Director.
The Grievance Committee
The Grievance Committee is appointed by the Director for a period
of three years. The committee may be reconstituted after three years
with or without inclusion of previous members. The Chairperson is
nominated by the Director in consultation with the Governing Board
and/or its Chairman. The Chairperson and one member may if needed
nominated be from competent persons outside the institute. The
Grievance Committee is a hearing body composed of four members in
addition to the Chairperson with delegated authority to hear
grievances. The Committee's role is to determine whether the grievance
presents a matter that is within the jurisdiction of the grievance
Committee and if so, to hear the grievance. The Committee is
responsible for making written findings of fact and recommendations
with regard to the grievance. A Grievance Committee has no power to
reverse an administrator's decision. Its authority is only to
recommend a reassessment of the decision if it finds that the decision
was reached improperly or unfairly. As a result of their delegated
authority, members of the Committee must at all times maintain a
neutral status vis-à-vis the parties to the grievance. Indeed, as a
matter of due process, Committee members must be fair and impartial
decision makers. To be a fair and impartial decision maker, a
Committee member should keep an open mind and not presume that either
party to the grievance is right or wrong.
The Grievance Committee's role is to make a decision based on the
evidence presented by each party. To maintain appropriate neutrality
and accord due process to both grievant and respondent, ex parte
communications on matters of substance related to the grievance must
not take place between the Committee and a grievant and/or respondent.
(Ex parte communications are those that involve only one party without
the presence or knowledge of the other party.) Neither the Committee
Chairperson nor Committee members may solicit or hear evidence outside
of presence of the parties. All communications to a party by the Chair
or Committee members must take place in meetings at which both parties
have been provided the opportunity to be present or through written
correspondence sent to each party.
Steps in the Grievance Process
The grievance process consists of the following phases:
- Initial meeting of the Grievance Committee
- The hearing of the grievance
- Deliberations by the Committee
- Pronouncing the decision
Initial Meeting of the Committee
The work of the Committee begins with an initial meeting of
Committee members convened by the Chairperson, after the convener
receives a grievance petition. The Chairperson will conduct a brief
orientation to ensure that the members of the Committee have received
the grievance, that they are familiar with the grievance procedures and
that no member has any conflicts of interest that would prevent the
member from serving on the Grievance Committee for that particular
petition. After this orientation, the Grievance Committee's task is to
review the grievance to determine whether the grievance is to go
forward or be dismissed.
Review of grievance petition to determine jurisdiction to hear the matter
Once the procedures have been discussed and potential conflicts of
interest resolved, the Committee must review the grievance and make a
jurisdictional determination as to whether the grievant has stated a
grievable matter and fulfilled the requirements necessary for the
matter to proceed to a hearing. The Committee should address the
following jurisdictional issues:
A grievance must be filed against a proper party and it must
present a grievable matter within the jurisdiction of the Committee.
Does the grievance meet the following criteria?
Is the grievance filed against an administrator?
Does the grievance statement challenge a decision made by the
administrator that is adverse to the grievant?
Does the grievance statement allege that the decision violated
institute policy, regulation, rule or practices or was otherwise
unlawful or without a rational basis?
Comments: Grievances may be filed only against an
administrator who has made a decision that adversely affects the
grievant. Most grievances will be filed against the grievant's unit
head/reporting officer, Dean, or Director. For grievance petitions
that directly name the Director as the primary respondent, the
Director may be represented at the Grievance committee by a suitably
nominated officer or the Director may choose to represent himself or
herself. A grievance normally may not be filed against another staff
member or group of staff members unrelated to the grievance petition
administratively unless the grievant has clear evidence for the actual
involvement of such individuals.
A grievant must have standing to raise the grievance and the matter
must be one that is capable of being remedied. In other words, the
decision that is being grieved must be one that adversely affects the
grievant and can be remedied.
Petitions sent to/forwarded to the Director or the institute
quoting or describing anomalies and grievances in the institute from
staff or other sources can be referred to the Grievance Committee by
the RGCB management for appropriate action.
For cases where the grievable subject matter is not specifically
limited, the grievance must allege that a decision was made improperly
or unfairly. Improperly means one that violates a specific institute
rule, regulation, policy or practice. Unfairly means one that is
arbitrary or capricious (no rational basis for the decision) or
unlawfully discriminatory (violates state or central civil rights
laws). If the grievant has not provided sufficient information to show
that the matter is clearly grievable, the Committee may dismiss the
grievance or give the grievant the opportunity to amend the grievance
if it appears likely that such information might be provided.
Was the grievance timely filed?
The grievance petition must be filed within sixty calendar days of
the decision being grieved or within an extension of time granted by
the Chair of the faculty.
Grievances must be filed within sixty calendar days of the decision
being grieved. Time deadlines are imposed to avoid delays that can
result in loss of memory, unavailable witnesses and unavailable
documentation. Timely filing notifies the respondent to the grievance
while memories are fresh and documentation can be preserved and
available witnesses can be notified.
If the grievance was not filed within the requisite sixty days, the
Chairperson of the Grievance Committee may waive the requisite sixty
day filing date under significant extenuating circumstances.
Significant extenuating circumstances are generally those
circumstances that are beyond the control of the grievant and thus
have affected the grievant's ability to timely file. Examples would
include inability to file because the grievant was in the hospital or
is otherwise unaware of the decision because of events beyond the
staff member's control.
Has the grievant followed the preliminary steps requisite to
filing the grievance?
The grievant must meet with the unit head or Dean or Controller of
Administration to attempt informal resolution of the grievance before
filing the grievance. If the matter is not satisfactorily resolved,
the grievance may then proceed through the grievance process.
If the grievance has been timely filed and is otherwise a grievable
matter, and if respondent challenges the lack of an attempt at
resolution, the Grievance Committee may for good cause permit the
parties an opportunity to explore informal resolution. If the matter
is not resolved within a time frame set by the Chairperson, the
hearing of the grievance should go forward. If the grievant does not
show good cause for not having attempted informal resolution, the
grievance may be dismissed.
In certain cases, the Committee may decide that it needs additional
information to decide these issues. In such event, the Chairperson may
request in writing additional information from the parties and/or hear
from the parties directly at the pre-hearing conference before
deciding the matter. The written request and any responses must be
shared with all parties.
After reviewing the jurisdictional matters the Committee will make
a decision on jurisdiction and notify the parties. While the grievance
procedure requires a written report in the case of dismissing a
grievance, since either party may appeal an adverse decision to the
Director or the Governing Council (through the Director), a written
decision should be prepared in either event setting forth reasons for
the Committee's decision and provided to the parties. In cases where
the grievant has not stated a grievable matter but the grievant has
provided information that indicates that the grievant can do so with
an amended grievance petition, the Grievance Committee may permit the
The Grievance Hearing
The purpose of the grievance hearing is to provide the grievant and
respondent the opportunity to present their respective cases to a
Committee that will make findings of fact and recommendations regarding
the grievance. The hearing is composed of four discrete segments:
- Opening statements of each party
- Presentation of the grievant's case
- Presentation of the respondent's case
- Closing arguments of each party
Each segment is briefly described below
Opening Statements from grievant and respondent are invited after
the Chairperson's introductory remarks. Each party makes a brief
summary of what their respective positions are regarding the
grievance. The opening statements provide a framework or context for
the evidence that each party will present. Opening statements are not
substitutes for testimony or argument. Rather they are brief outlines
of what each party expects to present through testimony and
documentary evidence. The Chairperson will place a time limit on
opening statements and then proceed to the evidentiary phase of the
hearing, i.e., presentation of the grievant's case and presentation of
the respondent's case.
The grievant presents his or her case first through the testimony
of witnesses and the introduction of documentary evidence. After each
witness, the respondent has the opportunity for cross-examination of
the grievant's witness. Committee members may also ask the witness
questions. At the conclusion of the grievant's case, the Committee
must decide if the grievant has presented sufficient credible evidence
to sustain the grievance. If the grievant has not done so, the
Committee must dismiss the grievance after the grievant's case. If the
evidence presented does sustain the grievance, then the Committee must
go forward with respondent's case.
The respondent's presentation proceeds in similar fashion with the
grievant cross-examining respondent's witnesses. The Committee may
also ask questions of respondent's witnesses. At the conclusion of the
Respondent's case, closing statements from each party are then invited
by the Chairperson.
Closing statements provide each party with the opportunity to
summarize the evidence and to argue their respective positions based
upon the evidence presented. Since the grievant and respondent have
already testified and presented their documentary evidence, closing
statements may not be used to introduce new evidence. After the
closing statements, the hearing concludes and the Committee recesses
The Grievance Committee deliberations take place in closed session
after the hearing has been recessed. The deliberative phase allows the
Committee to discuss all the issues that have been raised during the
hearing and the evidence presented by each party in support of their
case or in rebuttal to the case presented by the other party.
Conflicting evidence is evaluated and the Committee determines which
facts have been proven. The facts are then applied to the issues and
the Committee determines what recommendations it should make regarding
After the hearing has concluded, the Committee may not talk to any
of the parties or other persons, including previous witnesses who have
testified. If additional material testimony is needed, the Chair may
reconvene the hearing for such purposes. If the matter is straight
forward and can be responded to in writing, the Chair may solicit such
a response provided that all parties have the opportunity to comment
on the respective responses and all responses are shared with each
Pronouncing the decision
The written report of the Committee's decision must set forth the
Committee's findings and recommendations. Specifically, the report
should state a separate finding for each particular issue of the
grievance, should make findings that resolve the material issues of
fact that have been disputed, address any minority views and provide a
recommendation for disposition of the grievance.' The Committee's
report should contain sufficient information to permit the Director to
understand the issues in the grievance, the facts as determined by the
Committee based upon the credible evidence submitted by the parties
during the grievance hearing, and the rationale for the Committee's
decision and recommendation(s).
The report should address the following matters:
- The composition of the grievance Committee.
- The process followed by the Committee. A description of the
process should set forth the dates the Committee met and the length of
time spent in hearing the case and in deliberating to reach a
- The identity of all parties to the grievance.
- A description of the grievance (including what policies,
regulations, rules or practices were alleged to be violated).
- The findings of fact that is relevant to each issue in the
grievance. The findings of fact basically set forth what happened.
There may be conflicting evidence on various factual issues that the
Committee will resolve in its deliberations and these factual
conflicts should be discussed with the Committee's ultimate judgment
of why the Committee accepted or rejected specific evidence. The
parties, the Chancellor and any subsequent reviewer needs to know that
the Committee considered the relevant and material evidence and made
factual findings that are supported by the evidence in the record. A
recitation of conflicting evidence in the record does not suffice. The
Committee must actually decide which evidence it finds as true.
Recommendation(s) addressing what action the Committee has decided
should be taken. The recommendation must be supported by the facts and
provide a justification. While the Director or the Governing Council
have the authority to draw different conclusions, a carefully reasoned
decision is more likely to be persuasive and upheld.
'The Committee should be careful not to simply substitute its judgment
for that of the respondent(s) (e.g., the Committee should not recommend
that the grievant get promotion or a pay rise simply because the
grievant's professional record could have justified this. Rather, the
Committee should decide if the decision being grieved was reached for
improper or unfair reasons (e.g., was it based on irrelevant factors
such as age or race or personal or political views, or were procedures
violated to the prejudice of the grievant). '