Procedures for Dealing with Complaints about Employment Matters (1991)

Organization: 

American Guild of Organists

Source: 

CSEP Library

Date Approved: 

July 25, 1991

Other Versions: 

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Procedures for Dealing with Complaints about Employment Matters

Professionals in Sacred Music:


Introduction: Any member (hereafter 'Member') of the American Guild of Organists who feels he or she has been unfairly treated by an employing institution (hereafter *Institution*) may request the support of the Guild through his or her Chapter.

Through all these Procedures, the Chapter shall strive to maintain friendly relations with both the Member and the Institution The Chapter shall work to complete these Procedures expeditiously, recognizing that both Member and Institution await Its decision. Representatives of the Chapter shall emphasize in communications with the Institution and with other members that no blame is attached to either side until a decision has been reached. The Chapter shall keep written documentation of all meetings, telephone calls, decisions and recommendations, and shall recognize the confidential nature of these Procedures.

Local chapter procedures


The Chapter shall be represented by its Professional Concerns Committee (or, in the case of a Chapter with no such standing committee, a committee appointed by the Dean), hereafter 'Committee.')

These Procedures may be amended In a case where an immediate telephone call from a representative of the Committee to the Institution might resolve the situation. In such a case, written documentation from the Member and witnesses may not be necessary. However, when it becomes clear that resolution cannot be achieved through simple, direct communication among the three parties (Member, Institution and Committee), the following Procedures shall be strictly adhered to.

I. The Member shall request assistance in writing, from the Dean of his or her local Chapter, outlining his or her work history in the Institution and claim of unfair treatment. The letter should be accompanied by a copy of the Member's employment agreement with the Institution. The Member in so doing agrees that full cooperation with the Committee is essential, and that if cooperation is withheld at any point, the Committee may withdraw its support of the Member and terminate these Procedures.

2. Upon receipt of the Member's letter, the Dean shall. In a timely manner provide copies of the letter and other pertinent information to both the Committee and the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns. (The Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns shall consult with the Regional Councilor, the National Councilor for Professional Concerns and the Executive Director at all stages of these Procedures.)

3. If, after reading the Member's letter and employment agreement, meeting in person with the Member for frank discussion and receiving the advice of the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns, the Committee feels that the Member has just cause the Committee will take the following actions:

(To avoid conflict of interest, members of the Chapter Executive Committee and Professional Concerns Committee should not apply for permanent work nor serve in an interim position in the Institution concerned until these Procedures have been completed.)

(a) Request that the Member supply the names addresses and telephone numbers of three regular witnesses to his or her work within the Institution. In cases dealing with religious institutions, these witnesses should be lay leaders, preferably a volunteer choir member, a member of the elected lay leadership and a member of the congregation at large.

(b) Notify the Institution, by telephone and then in writing, that the Chapter has been asked by a (named) Member to investigate a charge of unfair treatment or wrongful termination. Make it clear that the investigation has merely begun, that no determination has been made, that the Institution will be encouraged to present Its side and that the Institution will receive, within one week, a copy of these Procedures. A time limit within which the Committee intends to complete its deliberations should also be given. The representative of the Committee should speak personally with a representative of the Institution and, if possible, -encourage positive communication between the Member and Institution at this point In the Procedures.

(c) Notify the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns of the Committee's actions to data and request that no information about the position be included in The American Organist. Notify the Chapter membership that an investigation is in progress. Caution them that it is only an investigation and that no blame is attached to either Member or Institution. Wording of this notice shall be approved by the Executive Director before publication.

4. The Committee shall request from the witnesses, in writing, a frank evaluation of the Member's work, competence and Influence in the Institution and solicit the witnesses' responses to the Institution's reported action(s). It the case involves a termination of employment and the Institution has been specific about the reasons for dismissal, the Committee should solicit the witnesses' responses to both the stated reasons and the manner in which the Member was terminated. Witnesses should be given a copy of the Procedures in which they are being asked to participate. They should be assured that all information, written or spoken, is confidential and will be shared only by the Committee (not by the Member), and that they will be notified of the Committee's final determination. The time limit within which the Committee intends to complete its deliberations should also-be given.

5. After evaluating the witnesses' written testimony, the Committee shall meet with each witness separately. Subsequent meetings with the Member may also be scheduled as needed. If, after meeting with the witnesses, the Member appears to deserve Chapter backing in his or her contest of the Institution's action(s), the Institution should be contacted for a discussion of the situation. If the Institution refuses to cooperate in such a discussion, the Committee may have no choice but to support the Member.

6. At least two members of the Committee who are thoroughly versed In the situation should meet with the Institution to attempt to (a) resolve the conflict (if the Member is still in the employ of the Institution) or (b) determine if the Member was wrongfully terminated. One of the Committee's representatives would ideally be an ordained person, appointed either for the particular case or for a year's term. If reconciliation is possible (that is if the Member is still in the employ of the Institution or the Institution is willing to consider reemployment) the Committee is encouraged to work toward that goal.

7. Should reconciliation not be reached, the Committee shall recommend to the Dean that the Executive Committee vote to take one of the following actions:

(a) Affirm the action of the Institution, In writing and offer counsel to the Member.

(b) Remain neutral in the situation. Notify both Member and Institution, in writing, and outline the ways in which bath were seen to be at fault.

(c) Support the Member by informing the Institution, in writing from the Dean that the Committee's investigation revealed questionable employment or termination practices (give details). Offer the Institution an opportunity to resolve the situation to the satisfaction of the Committee within thirty days, after which the Chapter membership will be informed of the Committee's findings. Send copies of the letter to the Institution, the Committee's final report and any other documentation to the National Councilor and Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns arid the Regional Councilor. Retain copies in the Chapter's permanent files.

8. After completion at National Level Procedures as outlined below, and If the thirty-day limit Is reached with no resolution, the Member shall be provided with a copy of the letter to the Institution described In "7c" above, to be used as desired. The witnesses shall -also be notified of the Chapter's decision and thanked for their cooperation.

9. After completion of National Level Procedures as outlined below, and with the approval of the Member, the decision may be printed in the Chapter's publication. Chapter members shall be advised to exercise caution in discussions of employment with the Institution. Wording of this notice shall be approved by the National Council before publication.

10. After the ruling by the Chapter Executive Committee. the Member may request that the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns review the action of the Chapter Executive Committee and offer the Member an opportunity for a hearing or written appeal. The Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns may:

(a) Support the action of the Chapter Executive Committee.

(b) Recommend a different action to the Chapter Executive Committee.

(c) Recommend, to the Regional Councilor and the National Councilor for Professional Concerns, final dispensation by the National Council.

11. After the recommendation by the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns, the Member may request that the National Councilor for Professional Concerns review the recommendations and offer an opportunity for a hearing or written appeal to the National Council. The National Council, by majority vote at a duly called meeting abiding by quorum requirements, may support or overturn the recommendation of the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns. The National Council's determination shall be final.

National Level Procedures


1. Upon receipt of the information regarding the Chapter decision, the National Councilor for Professional Concerns shall consult with the Regional Coordinator for Professional Concerns and, If warranted, the National Council and legal counsel. to ensure that the Procedures have been carried out according to these guidelines and that the Chapter's action is in accordance with national policy.

2. When the thirty-day limit for resolution has been reached, and If the National Councilor for Professional Concerns agrees with the Chapter's action, the National Council, with the written authorization of the Member, may direct that no 'positions available" advertising be accepted from the Institution. The National Council may also take other actions including notification of denominational officials and notification of the Deans of all Chapters.

Conflict Resolution


1. If an Institution later wishes to approach the American Guild of Organists to resolve a previously problematic employment situation (for Instance. in a case where the institution's staff has changed). the Chapter Professional Concerns Committee (or a committee specially appointed), hereafter the 'Committee,' shag review the documents from the original complaint. Using this information as a guide the Committee may request that the Institution take all or some of the following actions:

(a) Reimburse the Member for loss of Income resulting from wrongful termination.

(b) Provide the Committee with employment guidelines that Include regular, written employee evaluation and outline the process for termination of employees. The Committee shall study these guidelines and determine whether, in its opinion, they protect employer and employee equally.

(c) Provide the Committee with a proposed contract for the position. Using the American Guild of Organists' sample contract as a model, the Committee shall determine whether, in its opinion, the Institution's contract protects employer and employee equally.

2. If the Committee is satisfied with the Institution's response. it may recommend that the Chapter Executive Committee vote to recommend to the National Council that resolution of the conflict between the Institution and the American Guild of Organists be announced and published. The National Council shall then review the case and take such actions as it deems necessary.