University of Massachusetts Medical School
The purpose of the Appeals Committee (AC) at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is to provide a second-level review process for the complainant or the accused who is (are) dissatisfied with the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office’s (DEOO) findings and recommendations.
The Chancellor appoints individuals to serve as Appeals Committee members. Members must represent a cross-section of the workforce, including line staff. (The Council on Equal Opportunity and Diversity (CEOD) membership has traditionally served in the capacity of the appointed Appeals Committee members.)
Those who serve on an Appeals Committee are required to maintain strict confidentiality regarding any and all committee matters in which they are involved.
Appeals Committee members receive training from the General Counsel’s Office prior to an appeals hearing.
AC MEMBERS’ ROLE
Members may be asked to serve in one or more of the following roles:
For each appeal, three to five Appeals Committee members are convened as a sub-committee to review the case. To avoid potential conflicts of interest, sub-committee members must not have had direct or substantial indirect involvement with the parties, nor with the case under consideration.
An Appeals Committee member may serve as a consultant to the DEOO for a specific case. If involved in such a consultation, and if that case is subsequently appealed, the member will not be included on the Appeals Committee sub-committee for that case.
A member whose professional/technical expertise is pertinent may serve with DEOO in conducting an investigation.
If either principal party (the complainant or the accused) involved in a formal complaint of harassment or discrimination disagrees with the findings/recommendations of that complaint as issued by the Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office (DEOO), the party can appeal the findings or recommended sanctions within five (5) working days after receiving the summary report.
When an Appeals Committee receives an appeal on referral from the Chancellor, it informs the complainant, the accused and the appropriate manager of the specifics for the appeal, their rights and the procedures to be followed in reviewing the case. Every effort will be made to provide all constitutionally protected and guaranteed due process rights to both the complainant and the accused.
The Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, or designee, presents the DEOO’s findings and proposed recommendations to the Appeals Committee.
The complainant and the accused may be accompanied, advised or represented by an employee of UMMS acting as the party’s advocate during the appeals process. When members of a bargaining unit are involved, a union representative may be present. Legal counsel representing parties to the complaint is not permitted to be present during any phase of the hearing.
The Appeals Committee may request an employee(s) of UMMS, as a condition of their employment, to participate as a witness in the appeal process.
The chairperson of the Appeals Committee may request information from the DEOO investigation file, including material relied on in arriving at findings and recommendations.
In reviewing the case, the Appeals Committee considers whether:
The case was appropriately brought and filed in a timely manner
The DEOO should have accepted the case for investigation, or if there should have been a change in venue
The DEOO handled the investigation thoroughly and in a manner fair to both the complainant and the accused, with both parties being provided due process
The preponderance of evidence presented, including the credibility of the witnesses, supports the findings in the report
The DEOO’s disciplinary recommendations are proportional to its findings
After completing its review, the Appeals Committee sends its findings and recommendations to the Chancellor, together with appropriate supporting documentation materials. Copies of the findings and recommendations are also sent to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity.
The Chancellor reviews the Appeals Committee’s written submission. The Chancellor may affirm or modify these findings and recommendations, or reach another conclusion. The summary of the accepted findings of the Chancellor are sent to the Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity, the complainant, the accused and the appropriate manager(s). The Chancellor’s decision is final and represents the culmination of the individual’s appeal rights within the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Upon conclusion of the Appeals Committee’s work, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Diversity and Equal Opportunity will meet with the members to discuss any recommendations or suggestions stemming from the case that will bear on handling future cases.