Professor Jones makes an appointment to review her personnel file at the college in preparation for her tenure review. She discovers that the file contains letters of complaint from students that were placed in the file without her knowledge. Is this grieveable?
Yes it is. Prof. Jones's rights under Article 19 of the PSC collective bargaining agreement have been violated. Knowing your rights under Article 19 can protect you against an adverse employment decision.
Article 19 provides for two types of personnel files--a personal file and an administration file. The contract provides you with the right to examine your personal file upon request. This article also lists the materials that may be placed in the personal file and the procedures that management must follow before doing so. In addition, it describes the steps to take should you want a document placed in the file.
The second personnel file maintained by the college, the administration file, may contain only materials requested by another unit of the university (other than your home campus) or documents which you supplied to the college in connection with your employment, promotion or tenure. The administration file is not available to the individual employee but only to committees and individuals responsible for employment decisions, such as appointment, reappointment, promotion or tenure.
Article 19 prohibits the placement of material of any kind in your personal personnel file until you have been provided with an opportunity to read its contents and attach any comments you desire. Initialing the document does not indicate that the employee approves or agrees with the contents of the document. If the employee refuses to initial any document, a statement to that effect should be put on the document before it is put into the personal file.
Article 19 provides for tenured and certificated full-time members of the instructional staff to examine and initial their personal file before the end of the fall semester. For non-tenured and non-certificated full-time members of the instructional staff, the contract provides that the personal file be examined and initialed before the end of each academic year. However, to ensure that your personal file is up-to-date and that you have been provided with an opportunity to read the contents of all documents in the file and respond appropriately, grievance counselors recommend the following:
• Check your personal file at the beginning and end of each semester. When checking the contents of the file make a list of all the documents contained and the date you discovered the document in the file. Make sure that you were given the opportunity to read and initial it before it was placed in the file.
• From time to time, you may receive a document that you wish to have included in the file. Submit a copy to the person responsible for file maintenance. Put the original in the file that you keep at home.
• You should rebut any negative documents that are placed in the file at the time they are placed there. Before responding to a negative document, such as an unsatisfactory annual evaluation, you should consult with a PSC grievance counselor.
• If you review your file and discover documents that were placed there without your knowledge, whether positive or negative, you should contact a grievance counselor immediately.
If you have questions on this article, or any other aspect of the contract, please call the PSC at 212-354-1252. We are happy to answer any questions that you may have concerning your terms and conditions of employment. If you are unable to contact your chapter representative, grievance counselors are available at the PSC central office five days a week to answer your questions and to represent you in a grievance hearing if needed.