University of Illinois System

Guidelines on Grievance Procedures for Complaints of Discrimination at the University of Illinois

Board Policy, enacted November 1996

These Guidelines are designed to cover grievance procedures for complaints by employees and students concerning alleged discrimination by the University in violation of the University's nondiscrimination policy.

Each campus is responsible for developing and implementing its own grievance procedures in such matters, within these Guidelines. A separate procedures will be established for University-level staff and students, also within these Guidelines. When developed, all campus and University grievance procedures are to be presented to the President of the University for approval prior to implementation.

A distinction is recognized between a complaint and a grievance. An employee or student may be said to have a complaint when some situation or event is viewed as unsatisfactory. Employees, supervisors and students are expected and encouraged to make every effort to resolve complaints informally as they arise. If a complaint cannot be satisfactorily resolved through an informal process, the complainant may reduce the matter to writing and file it promptly as a formal grievance.

To be effective, a grievance procedure must provide for a prompt, fair and definitive resolution of the matter. The following Guidelines are applicable to formal grievance procedures relating to complaints that allege discrimination.

  1. Final decisional authority on substantive and procedural issues related to a grievance initiated by a campus employee or student shall reside with either the Chancellor or a Vice Chancellor. Final decisional authority on substantive and procedural issues shall reside with either the President or a Vice President with respect to a grievance filed by a University-level employee or student. Procedures shall provide for an alternative procedure when a grievance is filed against one of these administrators.
  2. Separate grievance procedures may be established, within these Guidelines, for different groups of employees, students and applicants (students and employees).
  3. A time limit for filing a formal grievance shall be established, related to a specific number of days after the occurrence leading to the grievance or after the grievant was reasonably able to determine that the occurrence might affect the grievant's status; but this time limit shall not exceed one year for students and 180 days for employees. The time limit shall not preclude investigation of prior incidents tending to corroborate or refute a timely-filed grievance.
  4. Grievance procedures shall require formal grievances to be in writing. Decisions at all levels shall be reduced to writing, and the basis for a decision shall be set forth.
  5. Grievance procedures shall provide for consideration, decision and appellate review, with a maximum of three separate tiers.
  6. The grievant shall have at least one opportunity to present the grievance.
  7. At each level of decision or appeal, the individual or panel charged with responsibility for the decision shall be provided the existing record of the matter, including a copy of the written grievance, the resolution sought by the grievant and the written disposition at all preceding levels. The individual or panel responsible for a decision may make such further investigation as is deemed appropriate and, for that purpose, may seek assistance or information from other personnel.
  8. Grievance procedures shall provide that a grievant may have a personal advisor present at each tier of the grievance procedures to advise the grievant. The advisor shall not actively participate in the proceedings unless given prior approval.
  9. Final disposition of a grievance must occur within a maximum of 180 days from the time of filing, but final resolution within a much shorter period is strongly encouraged. However, for good cause, this deadline may be extended by the Chancellor, President or a designee.
  10. The record keeping aspects of the grievance procedures should be adequate to insure proper monitoring and reporting.
  11. Grievance procedures shall provide that claims of discrimination asserted by employees represented by a union may be brought only in accordance with the applicable union contract.