Grievance Procedures

       Members of the Columbia Postdoctoral Workers-UAW Local 4100 should refer to their contract for grievance procedures.

       The University provides several avenues of redress for other officers of research who feel they have been unfairly treated. Researchers experiencing problems with their appointment, compensation, and working conditions should talk first to their principal investigator. If the problems cannot be resolved in this manner or if they feel uncomfortable approaching their principal investigator, they may ask their chair or director, and then the appropriate dean or executive vice president, to attempt to broker an informal understanding with their principal investigator. Officers may also seek informal advice from the University Ombuds Officer, who will provide information and counseling on a confidential basis. With the consent of both parties, the University Ombuds Officer will also attempt to mediate an informal resolution to their disagreement. However, the University Ombuds Officer is not authorized to conduct formal investigations. Officers may contact the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action if they believe that they have been subjected to discrimination or discriminatory harassment. At the Columbia University Irving Medical Center, officers may contact the CUIMC Office of Professionalism for concerns not associated with protected class issues, which are to be handled by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

       Officers dissatisfied with the outcome of the efforts within their department, school, institute, or center to resolve their complaints may ask the Provost to intercede on their behalf. At the officer’s request, the Provost will appoint a grievance committee to conduct a formal review of complaints concerning termination or nonrenewal, title or promotion, and most other matters relating to the terms of their appointment and working conditions. This option is not available in the case of salary disputes, complaints of discrimination or sexual harassment, or authorship disputes, which the University addresses through other mechanisms.

       Requests for a grievance hearing must be submitted to the Provost in writing. Before convening a committee to investigate a complaint, the Provost will have the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs attempt to mediate a solution. If that effort fails and the Provost concludes that there is sufficient evidence to justify a formal hearing, the Provost will establish a three-member committee to investigate the officer’s grievance. The officer and the chair, director, dean, or executive vice president of the unit in which the officer is serving may each give the Provost nominations for one member of the committee. The Provost, on the recommendation of the first two members, selects the third, who serves as the committee’s chair. Any tenured faculty member or full-time officer of research in the rank of senior research scientist/scholar, research scientist/scholar, Lamont research professor, or Lamont associate research professor may serve as a member of a grievance committee.

       The committee will have access to the records relevant to the grievance. It will interview both the complainant and the individual against whom the complaint is directed and may, at its discretion, ask other witnesses to appear before it. The committee is expected to complete its investigation as expeditiously as possible and to report its findings in writing to the Provost, who will then reach a decision on the grievance. While a grievance is under investigation, the officer normally retains a full-time appointment and normally continues to be paid their full base salary. The Provost may authorize exceptions to these requirements.

       The Provost’s decision is final and binding on all parties. It is communicated in writing to the officer, the principal investigator, and the appropriate executive vice president, dean, chair, or director within 15 working days after the grievance committee has submitted its report. The Provost may extend that period upon determining that additional time is necessary to reach a reasoned judgment on the officer’s grievance.

       An alternative mechanism exists for officers who believe that they have been discriminated against or subjected to discriminatory harassment. Instead of a hearing by a three-member grievance committee, officers of research may file a complaint with the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. Such complaint will be reviewed in accordance with the Columbia University Employee Policy and Procedures on Discrimination, Harassment, Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence and Stalking.

       Salary complaints involving allegations of discrimination or discriminatory harassment are reviewed on behalf of the Provost by the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action.

       The Provost will review salary complaints from officers of research that do not involve allegations of discrimination or discriminatory harassment but only after the officers have attempted to resolve the dispute with their principal investigator, chair or director, and dean or executive vice president.

       The grievance mechanisms described above are normally not available to postdoctoral residency fellows since the terms of their appointments are determined by the hospital or institute at which they are training. If they wish to dispute a decision concerning their appointment, they should utilize its grievance procedures rather than those of the University.

Updated October 28, 2022