Stephen F. Austin State University

Institutional Complaints

Institutional Compliant and Grievance Information

SFA strives to ensure all employees and third parties are treated in a manner in accordance with university policies. Should an instance arise in which an employee or third party believes that a department or an individual has not acted in accordance with this stated goal, the employee or third party should first seek to resolve the issue informally with the respective individuals involved. If these informal procedures prove unsatisfactory, the employee or third party may file a formal grievance to seek resolution.

Definition

A formal institutional grievance may be filed when an employee or third party can demonstrate that a campus department or individual has not followed university policies. For an institutional grievance to be considered a formal institutional grievance, it must meet the following thresholds:

OR

AND

AND

I. Procedures for Institutional Grievances Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

Many policies at SFA contain formal procedures for handling grievances. Employees or third parties filing a grievance governed by one of these policies should refer to the procedures and expectations as outlined within the relevant policy statement for the appropriate procedures.

Since this is the case, the formal grievance procedures outlined in Section II below are not intended to circumvent these established processes (this list is not exhaustive):

Employment-Related Complaints

Policy and procedure for faculty alleged to have violated the Faculty Code of Conduct can be found in the Faculty Code of Conduct policy.

Policy and procedure for university employees alleged to have violated university standards in scholarly or creative activities can be found in the Misconduct in Scholarly or Creative Activities policy.

Policy and procedure for faculty to resolve disputes regarding their performance evaluation can be found in the Performance Evaluation of Faculty policy.

Policy and procedure for faculty to resolve disagreements concerning administrative decisions or other disputes can be found in the Faculty Disagreements policy.

Policy and procedure related to the granting or denial of tenure and the renewal or nonrenewal of a contract can be found in the Tenure and Continued Employment policy.

Policy and procedure regarding disputes concerning financial conflict of interest in research or other sponsored activities can be found in the Financial Conflicts of Interest in Sponsored Activities policy.

Policy and Procedure regarding research misconduct can be found in the Misconduct in Federally Funded Research policy.

Policy and procedure for non-academic staff employees to appeal actions taken with respect to their employment can be found in the Grievance and Appeals policy.

Discrimination Complaints

Policy and procedure for individuals who believe that he/she has been subjected to any type of discrimination (excluding sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct) can be found in the Discrimination Complaints policy.

Sexual Misconduct Complaints

Policy and procedure for individuals who believe he/she has been subject to sexual harassment or other forms of sexual misconduct can be found in the Sexual Misconduct policy. Additional sources of help and support can be found on the Lumberjacks Care website.

II. Procedures for Institutional Grievances Not Governed by a Process Outlined in an Official SFA Policy

In grievances for which no process is prescribed in an official SFA policy, the following guidelines must be followed:

Stage I - Informal Resolution

Any employee or third party who can demonstrate that he or she has been subject to adverse treatment due to a lack of adherence to University policy or procedure by university personnel may express dissatisfaction and seek resolution. As a first step, the employee or third party must seek to resolve the issue directly with the aggrieving University representative (e.g., staff member, faculty member, administrator). If a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached between the employee or third party and university representative, or if extenuating circumstances prevent direct communication between the employee or third party and university representative, the employee or third party should contact the university representative's direct supervisor (e.g., office supervisor, department chair, college dean). For academic matters, it may be necessary to follow the chain of command from department chair to academic dean. For issues dealing with staff, it may be necessary to discuss the matter with the staff member and then progress to coordinator, director, and ultimately divisional vice president as appropriate. If, after diligent communication through the chain of command, a satisfactory resolution cannot be reached, a formal grievance may be filed following the procedures as outlined in Stage II below.

You can always seek guidance from the Office of the General Counsel at 936-468-4305 or ogc@sfasu.edu.

Stage II - Formal Grievance

Employees or third parties may file a formal, written grievance only after informal resolution strategies have been pursued (see Stage I procedures above). Formal grievances must be in writing and filed within 30 university business days of the university action creating the employee's or third party's concern. Upon submission, the formal, written grievance will be routed to the appropriate administrator for review. Upon receipt of the grievance, the administrator will notify the employee or third party of its receipt and has 20 university business days to provide a written response. For grievances filed between semesters, additional response time may be necessary to allow for availability of the relevant parties. When additional time is necessary, employees or third parties will be advised in writing of the estimated time for response within 20 university business days of receipt of the grievance.

You can print a Formal Institutional Grievance Form to complete and provide to the Office of the General Counsel. In addition, you can e-mail ogc@sfasu.edu or you can contact the Office of the General Counsel at 936-468-4305.

Questions regarding complaints not detailed above should be referred to the Office of the General Counsel at ogc@sfasu.edu for forwarding to the appropriate department.

Institutional Complaints and Grievances - External

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) may investigate complaints concerning compliance with statutes and regulations that THECB administers. To submit a complaint or inquiry as to whether THECB has authority over such matters, please use THECB's Contact Us page.

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), SFA's accrediting agency, may investigate complaints regarding significant non-compliance with SACSCOC's standards, policies, or procedures. Additional information regarding SACSCOC's complaint process may be found on their website. SACSCOC expects individuals to attempt to resolve the issue through all means available to the complainant, including following SFA's own published grievance procedures before submitting a complaint to SACSCOC.