How To: Complete A Formal Grievance

How To: Complete A Formal Grievance

If you have exhausted all attempts at an informal grievance and were unable to reach a resolution, you can file a formal grievance. This post will explain How To File, the Timeline for a formal grievance and (if necessary) an appeal, and the process of the Complaint Resolution Officer’s Investigation. At the bottom, you will find some Tips from SAO and Resources.

How To File: 

  • The grievance form can be found here:  Student Grievance Procedure website
  • Your grievance must be written and signed by you or your designated representative*
  • Your grievance must contain:
    • your address
    • your phone number
    • detailed statement of the specific action being grieved,
    • the approximate date when the action took place,
    • the resulting injury or harm,
    • the specific law, policy, or rule alleged to have been violated (if known),
    • a description of the evidence supporting the grievance,
    • whether informal procedures were available and completed, and
    • the remedy or relief requested
  • *Representative/Advisor: If you will assisted by an advisor, you must submit his or her name and indicate whether he or she is a lawyer. You must also submit a signed statement authorizing your advisor to receive copies of relevant student records and correspondence regarding the grievance and to accompany you to any meetings.
    • Please note: The Student Advocate’s Office has many caseworkers available to represent you in informal and formal grievance procedures. Click HERE for more information.

Timeline: You must file the formal grievance (see instructions above) within 60 days of…

    • the occurrence of the grievance
    • or of when you became aware of the grievance. (For example, if Joe is discriminated against on January 10 but does not become aware of this until January 17, he has 60 days from January 17 to file a formal grievance.)
    • Or, if you attempted to resolve the grievance through a department’s specific procedure, you have 10 days after the outcome of said procedure to file a formal grievance.
  • Within 20 days, a Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO) will review your grievance and respond as to whether it is completetimelywithin the Student Grievance Procedure’s jurisdiction, and constitutes a violation of a law or a University policy.
    • If the grievance is incomplete, you have 10 days (after the CRO’s response) to complete it.
    • Your grievance will be dismissed if 1) you fail to complete it within 10 days or 2) it is untimely, outside the Student Grievance Procedure’s Jurisdiction, or does not have sufficient factual evidence.
    • If your grievance raises multiple issues, the CRO will treat each one separately using the steps described above. As such, the CRO may investigate some issues and dismiss others.
  • If the CRO dismisses your grievance, he/she will provide you, in writing, an explanation for the dismissal. 
  • You have 10 days to appeal such a dismissal to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs or the Dean of the Graduate Division, as appropriate.
    • The Vice Chancellor or Dean will respond to you within 20 days. If your dismissal is upheld, the decision is final. If the dismissal is overturned, the grievance will be sent back to the CRO.
  • The CRO will complete an investigation and produce a report (see below) within 75 days of the initial receipt of your grievance. This report will be sent to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs or Dean of the Graduate Division, as appropriate, who will then determine the outcome and take necessary corrective action.
  • Written notice of the determination, including a description of the basis for the decision, will be sent to you and the respondent within 15 days.
  • If you would like to appeal the determination:
    • You have 10 days within receiving notice of the determination to do so.
    • You must submit a written request for reconsideration to the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs or Dean of the Graduate Division, as appropriate.
    • Your request must meet at least one of the following grounds:
      • There is evidence that the Student Grievance Procedure was not followed, and this resulted in an outcome adverse to you, OR
      • There is evidence that the CRO made an obvious error in interpretation of evidence or law/University policy, and this error resulted in an outcome adverse to you.
    • The Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs of the Dean of the Graduate Division, as appropriate, will respond in writing within 30 days. This determination will be final.

Complaint Resolution Officer’s Investigation:

  • The Complaint Resolution Officer (CRO) has 75 days to conduct, complete, and report the findings of an investigation of your grievance.
  • The CRO will send a copy of the written grievance and any supporting documentation to the head of the department or unit in which the violation allegedly occurred and ask for a written response.
  • The respondent will
    • confirm or deny each fact alleged in the grievance;
    • indicate the extent to which the grievance has merit;
    • indicate acceptance or rejection of any remedy requested by the grievant OR outline an alternative proposal for remedy
  • The grievant will receive a copy of the department’s or unit’s response.
  • The CRO may try to negotiate a resolution or administrative settlement of the grievance. If such a resolution satisfies both the grievant and the respondent, the CRO will notify both parties of the voluntary resolution in writing, and the grievance will be dismissed.

Tips from SAO:

  • When submitting a grievance, try to focus on the facts and evidence, as well as the grievance’s impact on you. Avoid inflammatory or defamatory language. It is certainly understandable that the issue at hand is incredibly difficult for you, but please try to keep your formal grievance free of emotionally charged language.
  • Remember the procedure’s definition of Time: All time periods referred to in this procedure refer to calendar days, excluding summer term and inter-semester recesses. If the designated time period ends on a Saturday, Sunday or campus holiday, the time period will be extended to the following working day. The time periods designated in this procedure may be extended only where there is good cause and notice of the extension is provided to all parties.

Resources:

  • The ASUC Student Advocate’s Office is a great starting point for someone wishing to file a grievance. We provide free, confidential support, advice, and representation. Our Grievance Division has many caseworkers available to help you through the grievance procedure, whether you pursue informal or formal resolution.
    • Contact: Visit us at 114B Hearst Gym between 10am-5pm, Monday through Friday. Email us at help@berkeleysao.org or give us a call at (510)-642-6912
  • The Office of the Ombudsperson for Students may be able to provide information and assistance with regard to informal resolution of student grievances.
    • Contact: (510)-642-5754.
  • The Office for the Prevention of Harassment and Discrimination may be able to provide information and assistance with regard to grievances alleging sexual and/or racial harassment; concerns of sexual or transgender orientation.
  • The ADA/504 Disability Complaint Resolution Officer may be able to provide information and assistance with regard to grievances alleging discrimination on the basis of disability or failure to provide reasonable accommodations to students with disabilities.
  • The Age Discrimination Act Coordinator may be able to provide information and assistance with grievances alleging discrimination on the basis of age.
    • Contact: Equity Standards & Compliance at (510)-642-2795.
  • The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs may be able to provide information and assistance with regard to grievances alleging discrimination on the basis of veteran status, medical condition, ancestry, marital status, or citizenship.
  • The student may elect to bring complaints alleging violations of federal civil rights laws with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. As provided in state law, civil law remedies, including injunctions, restraining or other court orders, and monetary damages also may be available to complainants.