Grievance Policies & Procedures
Students who feel that an academic grievance or complaint not related to grades, disciplinary actions, or student conduct that they believe should be examined, may present their case according to the following grievance process. Students should file a complaint in a timely manner. If the issue is brought to the attention after a full academic year, or even semester, it may limit the ability to resolve the issue due to limitations outside of our control. The grievance process is based on a restorative justice model. Students seek a resolution through confidential discussion, investigation, and review of evidence. Student complaints and evidence are gathered as part of the investigation. The Student Affairs Office will provide an advocate to students to guide them through this process as a neutral party.
These grievance procedures provide a complaint process for students, employees or other individuals to seek review of a decision or action regarding a disability determination, accommodation, modification, auxiliary aid, or academic adjustment, or to otherwise make a complaint about discrimination or harassment based on a disability. The University will ensure the prompt and equitable resolution of complaints.
Complaints relating to student programs or activities, or facilities access issues, are handled by the Office of Ability Services.
Complaints relating to employment issues are handled by the Human Resources Office.
If the complaint alleges discriminatory treatment of harassment by the Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources, the individual may seek informal review and resolution as described below or may submit a written grievance directly to the President.
Individuals with concerns about accommodations or other disability related complaints should bring those concerns forward promptly. Individuals are encouraged, but not required, to try to resolve concerns through the informal review and resolution process outlined below.
Informal Reveiw and Resolution
An individual with a concern about accommodations or modifications may seek advice and assistance in communicating with the concerned parties and request an informal review and resolution from the following offices:
For accommodations relating to student academic or educational programs, or student extracurricular programs and activities, contact the Office of Ability Services.
For accommodation relating to employment, contact the Office of Human Resources.
Individuals with complaints or concerns about discriminatory treatment or harassment based on a disability also may choose to pursue the informal review and resolution process as an alternative to proceeding directly to the formal grievance process. Students should seek assistance from the Office of Ability Services, and employees should seek assistance from the Office of Human Resources.
The request for an informal review and resolution should be in writing and should be directed to the Mental & Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist (for student issues) or the Director of Human Resources (for employees). It is important that the person making the request include a description of resolution being sought. The ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources will attempt to resolve the situation through discussions with the individuals involved, and will issue a written determination as to the resolution within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of the request.
If the individual making the request does not feel a satisfactory resolution has been reached, the individual may file a complaint through the formal grievance process described below. An individual may file a formal grievance without first using the informal review and resolution process.
- A grievance should be filed as soon as possible or within 30 calendar days after the grievant becomes aware of the alleged violation.
- A grievance must be filed in writing, contain the name and address of the person filing it, and briefly describe the alleged violation.
Grievances should be addressed to the Mental and Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist (student related matters) or to the Director of Human Resources (employment, faculty and staff related matters):
Mental and Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist
3240 Fort Road
Toppenish, WA 98948
Director of Human Resources
3240 Fort Road
Toppenish WA 98948
If a grievance alleges discriminatory treatment or harassment by the Mental and Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources, the grievance should be addressed to:
3240 Fort Road
Toppenish WA 98948
The President will designate an appropriate individual or individuals to investigate a grievance against the Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources. After receiving the results of the investigation, the President will make the determination concerning resolution of the grievance and any corrective actions that may be undertaken. The President’s decision shall be final and not subject to further appeal.
- An investigation, as may be appropriate, will follow the filing of a grievance. The investigation will be conducted by the Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist (for students) or the Director of Human Resources or his/her designee (for employees). Investigations will be conducted as expeditiously as possible and are usually completed within 30-60 days, though this may vary based on the availability of witnesses, the scope of the investigation, or unforeseen circumstances.
- During an investigation, the grievant will have the opportunity to describe his or her allegations and identify supporting witnesses or other evidence. Individual respondent(s), if any, will have the opportunity to respond to each allegation and identify supporting witnesses or other evidence. As determined to be appropriate by the investigator, he or she will review evidence presented and may meet with witnesses identified by the grievant, respondent(s), third parties, or the investigator. All parties involved in the investigation are expected to cooperate and provide truthful information throughout the investigation process.
- During the investigation process, both the grievant and any individual respondent(s) may ask an advisor or support person of their choice to accompany them to any meetings with the investigator. Although neither party is restricted from choosing an attorney as their support person, an attorney serves in the same advisory role as a non-attorney support person, not as a legal advocate. The investigator will apply any restrictions on the advisor or support person’s ability to speak or otherwise participate equally to both parties.
Heritage University cannot ensure total confidentiality in its investigation of grievances filed under these procedures. However, Heritage University makes every reasonable effort to conduct investigations and related proceedings in a manner that protects the privacy of all parties, and will make clear to each individual involved in the grievance process that the expectation of confidentiality also applies to them. Each situation is reviewed as discreetly as possible, with information shared only with those who need to know about it in order to investigate and resolve the problem.
At the conclusion of an investigation, Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist (for students) or the Director of Human Resources (for matters relating to employment and staff) will determine whether the preponderance of the evidence supports the grievant’s allegations of a violation of the University’s Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy or the Access and Accommodations (ADA/504) Policy for Persons with Disabilities, and will consult with the appropriate University office regarding the resolution of the grievance and any corrective actions that will be undertaken. For staff, the appropriate office is the Office of Human Resources in collaboration with the respondent’s manager(s). For students, the appropriate office is the Office of Student Affairs. For faculty, the appropriate office is the faculty member’s Chair or Dean, or the University Provost. For issues involving facilities access, the appropriate office is the CFO/Vice President for Support Services.
The Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources will issue a written determination on the validity and resolution of the grievance and provide a copy to the grievant and respondent(s) within 60 calendar days from the date the formal grievance is filed, although that time frame may be extended for good cause.
When a grievance is found to have merit, the University’s response is based on several factors, including the severity of the conduct, and aims to prevent problems from recurring and ensure compliance with the ADA and Section 504. Individuals found responsible for disability discrimination or harassment will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or removal from the University community, in accordance with relevant University policies and/or procedures and other requirements set forth in the Staff Handbook, Faculty Handbook, or Student Handbook.
The University will take steps to ensure access to qualified individuals with disabilities, to prevent recurrence of any disability discrimination or harassment, and to remedy any discriminatory effects on the grievant and others, as appropriate.
If the grievant or an individual respondent is dissatisfied with the outcome of the grievance, they may appeal the grievance determination, as outlined below. The appeal must be submitted within ten (10) business days of the party’s receipt of the grievance determination from the Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources.
The appeal must be submitted to the Appeals Committee in writing and must specify the substantive and/or procedural basis for the appeal.
The Appeals Committee will review the appeal and issue a written decision to the grievant and respondent(s) within 15 business days of receipt of the appeal, unless extenuating circumstances require additional time for completion of the written decision. The decision of the Appeals Committee shall be final and not subject to further appeal, except in exceptional circumstances, where discretionary review is granted by the University President.
The Appeals Committee is appointed by the University President, and shall consist of the Director of Human Resources, the Vice President for Student Affairs, and the Provost, unless the University President determines that one of those three members should be replaced with a different member of the University administration. If an appeal involves allegations of discriminatory treatment or harassment by a member of the Appeals Committee, that member will not take part in the consideration or decision on the appeal. If the remaining members of the Appeals Committee believe it is necessary for the resolution of the appeal, they may request that the President appoint an additional committee member to take the place of the recused member for consideration and decision on the appeal.
Appeals should be addressed to the Appeals Committee and may be submitted either to the Director of Human Resources or the Vice President for Student Affairs at the addresses below:
Vice President for Student Affairs
3240 Fort Road
Toppenish, WA 98948
Director of Human Resources
3240 Fort Road
Toppenish WA 98948
If either the grievant or respondent is dissatisfied with the outcome of the appeal and believes there are exceptional circumstances that justify a different result, the party may seek discretionary review from the University President by submitting a written request detailing the exceptional circumstances and the substantive or procedural basis for seeking review. The request for discretionary review must be submitted within ten (10) business days from the party’s receipt of the final determination from the Appeals Committee.
The President’s decision on discretionary review will normally be issued within 15 business days of receipt of the request, unless additional time is required for a full consideration of the circumstances. The President’s decision to accept or reject discretionary review, and any subsequent decision made by the President on the grievance if discretionary review is granted, is final and not subject to further appeal.
Retaliation is Strictly Prohibited
Heritage University prohibits retaliation against anyone for inquiring about suspected breaches of University policy, registering a complaint pursuant to its policies, assisting another in making a complaint, or participating in an investigation under its policies. Retaliation is a serious violation that can subject the offender to sanctions, regardless of whether there is a finding that
a complaint or grievance has merit. Anyone experiencing any conduct that he or she believes to be retaliatory should report it immediately to the Mental and Social Health Counselor/ADA Specialist or the Director of Human Resources.
The right of a person to prompt and equitable resolution of a complaint or grievance shall not be impaired by the person’s pursuit of other remedies such as the filing of a complaint with the responsible federal and state agencies. Use of the University’s internal grievance and appeal process is not a prerequisite to pursuing other remedies with outside agencies. These agencies are:
Washington State Human Rights Commission
905 West Riverside, Suite 416
Spokane, WA 99201
U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights
915 Second Avenue, Room 331
Seattle, WA 98174
TDD (206) 220-7907
The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division
1425 New York Avenue, Room 5041
Washington, D.C. 20005
TDD (800) 514-0383
Web Address for this Policy
For additional information for faculty and staff, including a request for a reasonable accommodation on the basis of disability, please contact the Human Resources Office at HumanResouces@heritage.edu or at (509) 865-8617.
Additional information for students, or to request a reasonable accommodation on the basis of disability, please contact the Office of Ability Services at Heritage University, OfficeofAbilityServices@heritage.edu or at (509) 865-8515.
For students: http://www.heritage.edu/Current-Students/Office-of-Ability-Services
For faculty and staff: See Human Resources
Yovanna Cook, MSW
Mental & Social Health Counselor / ADA Specialist
Fax: (509) 865-8693
Rau Center 1714
Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm