Grievance Resolution Procedure for Postdoctoral Scholars

The Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs is committed to supporting and enhancing the postdoctoral experience at USC. Please feel free to reach out to our office if you encounter any difficulties during your stay here at USC.

The postdoctoral scholar grievance policies and procedures described below outline procedures for resolving academic and non-academic grievances during the course of your postdoctoral appointment at USC. The postdoctoral scholar grievance procedure is designed to supplement and enhance existing university procedures outlined at policy.usc.edu and the postdoctoral scholars policy page.

The following policies and procedures apply to postdoctoral scholars appointed under the following job titles: Postdoctoral Scholar – Research Associate (Job Code 98227), Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow (98223), Postdoctoral Scholar – Fellowship Trainee (Job Code 98219), Postdoctoral Scholar –Visiting Fellow (Job code 98229), and Postdoctoral Research Associate (Job Code 98067).

Grievances Defined

Any University of Southern California postdoctoral scholar who believes that he or she has been subject to an improper decision by the university, or by anyone acting officially on behalf of the university, that adversely affects their appointment or training, may file a grievance to obtain an independent review of the decision, and if appropriate, corrective action. A grievance is a written complaint made to an administrative officer of the university concerning such a decision. The grievance procedure below applies to decisions that directly and adversely affect the postdoctoral scholar. The procedure is not available to challenge a university policy perceived to be unfair or inadvisable or contest policies of an individual school, department, or program of the university, unless such policies are inconsistent with university policy.

A grievance may also be filed for a violation of rights provided by law, or by established university policies outlined in http://policy.usc.edu/ and http://policy.usc.edu/postdoctoral-scholars/ and including those contained in the postdoctoral scholar’s appointment letter.

How to File a Grievance

A postdoctoral scholar may present a grievance at any stage outlined below and may elect to discontinue the process if he or she feels that the conflict has been resolved successfully:

  1. Where appropriate, initiate a conversation with parties directly involved.
  2. Consultation by the postdoctoral scholar with the program administrator, department chair, and the dean, as appropriate, to discuss the issue.
  3. The scholar is encouraged to consult with any individuals with whom he or she feels comfortable discussing the matter. They may also reach out to any of the confidential resources listed below.
  4. Consultation by the postdoctoral scholar with the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic and Faculty Affairs, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, as needed.
  5. If a satisfactory resolution is not attained through these options, a postdoctoral scholar may file a formal grievance in writing to the dean of his or her school. This should be submitted within 90 days of the act or decision that is the subject of the grievance. The document should include a description of the decision or act in dispute and the reason why the grievant believes the decision or act was improper. The grievance document should also include a description of the remedy sought and the informal efforts that have been pursued and their outcomes.
  6. The dean will inform the parties to the dispute in writing of his or her decision and the reasons for the decision, generally within 60 days of the filing of the grievance.
  7. If the grievant feels that the decision of the dean is inappropriate for substantive or procedural reasons, he or she may, within 30 days, file a written appeal with the provost specifying those reasons.

For general grievances not related to one’s roles or responsibilities as a postdoctoral scholar, you are encouraged to resolve disputes and disagreements informally. There are available resources designed to assist postdoctoral scholars in the informal resolution of problems. These confidential resources include:

Related Policies

Discrimination, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and harassment are prohibited by the university. You are encouraged to report all incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity/Title IX Office or to the Department of Public Safety. This is important for the health and safety of the whole USC community. After reporting an incident, the Title IX Coordinator will provide outreach and information to the affected party. The sexual assault resource center webpage fully describes reporting options. Relationship and Sexual Violence Services provides 24/7 confidential support.