Non-staff Grievance Procedure
Virginia University of Lynchburg is committed to a policy of ensuring that no individual is excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or subjected to discrimination in University programs or activities on the basis of race, color, religion, political affiliation, age, disability, national origin, or sex. Virginia University of Lynchburg is also committed to a policy of ensuring that no individual is subject to retaliation for participating in the grievance process, complying with any law or reporting a violation of such law to a governmental authority, reporting an incidence of fraud, abuse, or gross mismanagement, or exercising any right otherwise protected by law.
Any individual (including any student) who believes that he or she has been subjected to discrimination, harassment, unfair treatment, or has been denied access or accommodations required by law in a Virginia University of Lynchburg program or activity shall have the right to invoke this Grievance Procedure. Any individual who believes that he or she has been subjected to retaliation for participating in the grievance process, complying with any law or reporting a violation of such law to a governmental authority, reporting an incidence of fraud, abuse, or gross mismanagement, or exercising any right otherwise protected by law shall also have the right to invoke this Grievance Procedure.
The identities of the grievant and respondents (the individuals against whom the allegations in the grievance are directed), as well as all witnesses, will not be disclosed except as required by law or policy, or as necessary to fully investigate the grievance.
Informal Grievance Procedure
Individuals desiring to lodge a grievance are encouraged, but not required, to consult with the Director of Disability Services as soon as concerns arise. The Director of Disability Services will attempt conflict resolution at the lowest level possible and move forward when necessary to the next appropriate level. If the dispute cannot be resolved by this informal procedure within 14 calendar days of the date on which the informal procedure was initiated, the individual may then lodge a formal written grievance (see below).
Formal Written Grievance Procedure
Formal written grievances should be submitted to the Director of Disability Services (or alternate designee see footnote 1). The Director of Disability Services will work with University personnel and the individual(s) in a timely manner to resolve disagreements.
The following procedures will be used to review all formal written grievances alleging discrimination, harassment, or retaliation:
The written grievance shall specify the nature of the act claimed to be in violation and the period of time and circumstance in which the grievance arose. The written grievance shall include a statement concerning what actions if any, have been taken to resolve the issue prior to filing the grievance, and what the desired remedy the grievant seeks. The written grievance shall contain the name and contact information of the person making the grievance. The University will not consider a grievance that fails to comply with this paragraph but will inform the grievant of the deficiencies in the grievance and provide the grievant with seven calendar days within which to remedy those deficiencies. The grievance may be supplemented by supporting documents and/or affidavits from persons having first-hand knowledge of the facts.
The grievance should be filed within 45 calendar days of the alleged violation (not including the 14-day period for an informal resolution described above), or within 45 calendar days of the date, the individual should reasonably have known about those actions or failures to act. If the written grievance is not filed within the 45-day period, the University will not consider the grievance, absent a showing of good cause, such as circumstances beyond the grievant’s control. If the written grievance is file outside the 45-day period, it should include a clear explanation of why the grievance was not filed within the prescribed period.
Disability Services will investigate all pertinent facts and circumstances in support of the alleged violation.
Disability Services may attempt resolution of a grievance through mutual agreement of the affected parties at any point during the course of the investigation.
Should such resolution be achieved, the investigation shall be ended. The terms and conditions of the resolution agreement shall be issued to the grievant and to the appropriate faculty member, administrator or department charged with implementing the prescribed action. A copy of the agreement will be filed in the grievant's file in the office of the Director of Disability Services.
Where resolution through mutual agreement is not achieved, written findings from the investigation, along with a recommendation for resolving the grievance, shall be forwarded simultaneously to the grievant and to the responsible administrator of the charged department by the Director of Disability Services.
The Director of Disability Services shall appoint a Formal Grievance Panel of at least three university personnel from departments other than the department complained of, and schedule a Grievance Hearing for a date within 21 calendar days of the receipt of the formal grievance, and shall provide the grievant and respondents with at least three calendar days written notice of the Grievance Hearing. The Hearing Notice shall include the allegations, the general manner in which the hearing will be conducted, and the rights of the grievant and respondents at the hearing, including the rights to submit documentary evidence and verbal testimony, and the right of the grievant to cross-examine respondents and witnesses and rebut evidence.
The grievant and respondents shall bring all witnesses and/or evidence to the Grievance Hearing, except that evidence previously submitted by the grievant in the informal or formal grievance procedure need not be brought to the Grievance Hearing. The Formal Grievance Panel shall conduct the hearing, accept evidence, determine the order in which evidence will be presented and witnesses examined and cross-examined, identify any additional witnesses or evidence relevant to the grievance, and question the grievant, respondents, and/or witnesses.
Within 28 calendar days of the receipt of the request of the formal grievance, the Formal Grievance Panel shall make and send a decision to the grievant and respondents which shall include the specific issues raised in the grievance, the applicable standards, the facts alleged, specific findings concerning the merit or lack of merit of each allegation, the basis for the decision, the remedies to be provided, if any, and the grievant’s right to appeal the decision (see Grievant Appeal Procedure, below).
Upon final resolution of a grievance, copies of all records will be forwarded to and maintained by the Director of Disability Services. All records relating to complained-of failures to provide reasonable accommodations are evaluative in nature and, along with all medical information contained in grievance records, shall be deemed confidential.
Grievant Appeal Procedure
Grievants who are dissatisfied with the Formal Grievance Panel decision must send an appeal within 14 calendar days of their receipt of the decision to the University Provost. The Provost's office is located in Humbles Hall, and he or she can be reached at 434-528-5276. The appeal must be signed by the grievant and include the following:
The name of and contact information for the grievant; A copy of the Formal Grievance Panel decision; and A statement concerning the specific flaws in the Formal Grievance Panel decision and why that decision should be reversed.
Within 14 calendar days of the Provost's receipt of the appeal, he or she shall send a final decision letter to the grievant. The final decision shall include the specific issues raised on appeal, specific findings concerning the merit or lack of merit of each raised issue, and the basis for the decision. This final decision letter is not subject to appeal.
A grievant who believes that his or her grievance has not been handled appropriately at any stage of the grievance procedure should bring this to the attention of the Director of Disability Services.
University Staff Appeal Procedure
Faculty and staff are required to implement accommodations and remedial actions recommended or required through the above procedure. If faculty or staff members question an action, remedy, or accommodation recommended by Disability Services in the informal procedure or the decision of the Formal Grievance Panel in the formal procedure and wish to submit an appeal, they must continue to afford the grievant the action, remedy, or accommodation while their appeal is considered. To appeal, the faculty or staff member shall submit a formal written appeal to the Provost. The relevant documentation and the reasoning for and against the requested accommodation(s) will be reviewed by the Provost, and the Provost will issue a written decision within 14 calendar days. This final decision letter is not subject to appeal.
Filing With The Office Of Civil Rights
The formal and informal procedures listed above are encouraged, but not mandatory. Individuals may also file a complaint directly with the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in the following ways.