The following procedures and resources are available to employees who seek to resolve work-related problems or to review a work-related decision such as discipline or termination of employment. It is important that workplace issues and problems are raised and brought forward in a timely manner.
These procedures are not available to employees hired as temporary or less than half-time (LHT) employees, those not employed on the regular Harvard payroll (e.g., consultants), teaching faculty and other instructional employee or employees covered by collective bargaining agreements.
No employee’s status with the University shall be adversely affected in any way because he/she uses these procedures. This policy does not change the at-will status of Harvard employment, and an employee's use of these procedures will not prevent, limit or delay any appropriate disciplinary action or enforcement of a policy.
A. Applicability of Resolution and Review Process
The review procedures described below are designed to ensure that work-related decisions and other employment actions are consistent with Harvard policy. Review of discrimination complaints is addressed in Section II (1) of this policy Manual and review of complaints arising under the Sexual and Gender-Based Harassment Policy is addressed in Section II (2).
This process cannot be used to contest the failure to extend employment beyond a previously established term, the termination of employment due to a layoff or reduction in staff, or termination during the orientation and review period. When an employee has been terminated for other reasons, and only after review at the local level, a request may be submitted for a University-level review of the termination.
B. Resolution and Review Procedures at the Local School/Department Level
a) Informal Resolution
Many workplace issues may be resolved informally at the local level. Employees are encouraged to address issues promptly and, where possible, to resolve them with the party, supervisor or manager involved.
In attempting to reach resolution informally, it may be appropriate for the affected employee to detail the relevant concerns or issues in writing and to suggest possible alternatives or steps for resolution.
If these attempts to reach resolution are not successful, an employee may request assistance or review of an issue by the local human resources officer. In certain circumstances, the local human resources officer may name an appropriate designee to review the matter, such as the department head or appropriate associate or assistant dean. Discussions should be held with all the parties involved, either separately or together, to determine the facts and to work towards a resolution of the matter. In appropriate circumstances, such as an employee’s misconduct or termination, the review process may be expedited or forwarded directly for formal review.
b) Formal Review by the Dean, Vice President or Designee
If a problem is not resolved informally, the employee may request a formal review by their local dean or vice president in a further attempt to resolve the matter. In administrative units that do not report to a dean or vice president, the local human resources officer, in conjunction with the unit director, may select a designee from within the University community to review the matter.
The employee's request for a review must be delivered in writing to the local human resources officer and other person(s) involved in the matter within 14 calendar days of the conclusion of the informal process. The request for review should summarize the problem, the problem-solving efforts to date, the outcome of those efforts and describe what the employee believes to be the appropriate resolution to the matter. The other person(s) involved may, but is not required to, reply to the request. Any reply should be sent to the employee and the local human resources officer within 14 calendar days of the request for review. The human resources officer will promptly forward the employee's request, any reply and other appropriate documentation to the dean, vice president or his/her designee and to the Office of Labor and Employee Relations.
Within a reasonable period of time (normally 45 calendar days) of having the matter referred to them, the dean, vice president or designee will review the documents, investigate the matter further as they determine appropriate, and render a written decision. In appropriate circumstances, such as an employee’s termination or employee misconduct, the review process may be expedited. A copy of this decision will be delivered promptly to the employee, the local human resources officer and the Office of Labor and Employee Relations. This decision is final except in the case of termination of employment (see below).
C. Review of an Employment Termination Decision at the University Level
The following step in the formal review process is to be used solely in the case of termination and is available only after concluding the formal review process at the local school or department level. This review is not available to contest the failure to extend employment beyond a previously established term, the termination of employment due to a layoff or reduction in staff or termination during the orientation and review period.
a) Formal Review by the Vice President for Human Resources
Solely in instances where an employee disputes the decision at the local level regarding termination of his/her employment, the employee may submit a written request for a formal review of the decision at the University level. This request must detail the reason(s) the employee disputes the decision and must be delivered to the Vice President for Human Resources (“Vice President”) within 14 calendar days of receiving the decision of the dean, vice president or designee. The Vice President will send copies of this request to the local human resources officer, to the dean or vice president (or designee) and to the respondent. The Vice President or his/her designee, will review the request for timeliness and compliance with the procedures set forth in this policy.
The Vice President will review the matter or may designate another individual to review the matter to date, including the decision at the local level.
A formal review at the Vice President-level is intended to be a review of the original process. The review may include examination of existing documents including facts supporting the decision and other relevant facts or may involve further inquiries to determine whether due process and policy was applied consistently in the prior proceedings leading to the local level decision. The Vice President or designee may uphold the decision (which will be final), reverse the decision, remand the decision (send the case back to the local level for further investigation and/or process) or may work with the parties to mediate a mutually agreeable resolution.
At the conclusion of this review, the Vice President or designee will prepare a written report that contains the findings of fact and the proposed final disposition of the matter, and will provide a draft of the report to the parties and give each of them an opportunity to add written comments or response within 14 calendar days. The Vice President or designee may modify the findings or proposed final disposition in consideration of the comments and responses of the parties. The Vice President or designee will render a final decision and will issue a final report. The final report will be sent to the parties and will include their written responses and comments.
Last updated: 05/21/2008