How to appeal

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What to expect when you file an appeal

If a grievance or appeal is not resolved satisfactorily at the unit or dean/director level, an academic staff member may appeal to the Academic Staff Appeals Committee (ASAC). The Academic Staff Appeals Committee has prepared this document clarify what happens during the appeals process. While this description is neither exhaustive nor prescriptive, it provides a picture of what to expect.

Please note that the UW-Madison Academic Staff Policies and Procedures (ASPP) govern the appeal process and that the ASAC has a set of Operating Guidelines; both supersede this document. Both documents are available from the Secretary of the Academic Staff..

After reviewing these documents, appellants or supervisors who have additional questions about the appeal procedure should contact the Secretary’s office (263-2985).

Appeal Procedure

Initial Letter from the Secretary of the Academic Staff

Following receipt of an appeal, the Secretary of the Academic Staff will send out a notice of the appeal to the Academic Staff Appeals Committee chair(s) within 5 business days.  The letter simply notifies the chair(s) of the appeal and also catalogs any documents that were filed with the appeal.

Scheduling Proceeding and Pre-Proceeding Teleconference

The Secretary of the Academic Staff will work with all parties involved to establish a date for the proceeding as well as the pre-proceeding teleconference.

Initial Letter from the ASAC Chair-Pre-Proceeding Teleconference

Following the establishment of the dates for the proceeding and teleconference and prior to the teleconference, the chair sends a letter to the appellant and the employer. This letter will discuss issues that will be agreed upon during the pre-proceeding teleconference:

  • Agree on issue(s) to be considered by ASAC
  • Verify access to evidence used by University
  • Establish whether proceeding is open or close
  • Establish for submission and exchange of written records
  • Agree to appeals panel that has been selected
  • Cite the sections of the ASPP that apply to the appeal
  • Review the burden of proof and the procedures for the proceeding

Following the teleconference, the ASAC chair will send a follow up letter to the parties summarizing what was agreed to during the teleconference

Additional Written Submissions

It is important to comply with the deadline date for additional Written submissions stated in the initial letter from the ASAC chair. Attempted submissions during the proceeding disrupt the process and are unfair to both parties.


In the interest of fairness to both parties to an appeal, neither the ASAC chair nor any members of the ASAC will discuss the appeal with either party apart from a pre-review or pre-hearing conference.


Each review or hearing will be considered and voted upon by a “panel” consisting of at least a simple majority of eligible ASAC members, usually five. The composition of each panel will be assigned by the chair or his/her designee. A committee member may recuse themselves from participation in any matter before the ASAC if they have reason to believe that doing so is in the best interest of any party to the matter.

Review vs. Hearing

Appeals vary by the nature of the appeal – e.g., grievance, nonrenewal, layoff, or dismissal, which stipulates the the type of proceeding that applies – a review or a hearing.

Reviews are conducted for appeals of grievances of discipline not involving loss of pay, other grievances, or nonrenewals. A review is less formal than a hearing. Both the employee and the employer have the option of making an oral presentation to the ASAC. Each side usually receives up to 20-30 minutes for its presentation; since the burden of proof in a review is on the employee, the employee speaks first. The presentations are followed by up to 10 minutes of rebuttal or summary for each side. Members of the panel are able to ask questions after each presentation.

Hearings are held for appeals of grievances of discipline involving loss of pay, layoffs, or dismissals for cause. A hearing is a more formal proceeding and is tape-recorded. During a hearing, witnesses can be called by both sides. Since the burden of proof is on the employer, witnesses for the employer are called first, and each may be cross-examined or later recalled by the appellant. Witnesses for the employee are called next. There are no time limits. Panel members may question the witnesses directly. At the conclusion of the testimony, each side may provide a rebuttal or summary statement.

Conduct of the Review or Hearing

Open vs. closed meeting. The review or hearing shall be a closed meeting unless the appellant has requested an open meeting. In a closed meeting, present in the room are the ASAC panel members, ASAC counsel, and the Secretary of the Academic Staff. The appellant may one additional representative that may be counted, and the University may also have up to two people present including counsel. In a hearing, any witnesses wait outside the room until called on a schedule prepared by the parties. If an appellant requests an open meeting, anyone including witnesses can attend.

From time to time, representatives from the Office of Human Resources Workforce Relations will ask to attend a review or hearing for training purposes.  Both sides will be asked for agreement to such a request.

Representation. Both the appellant and the employer have a right to representation. It is not necessary to be represented by an attorney. Legal representation of the appellant is paid for out of pocket by the appellant. If an appellant is represented by an attorney, the employer is represented as well. The employer always has an attorney in a hearing, where the burden of proof is on the employer. The ASAC also has legal counsel to advise the panel during the proceedings. The legal counsel for the ASAC is impartial and does not represent either party.

Witnesses. In the case of a hearing, if witnesses are to be called, the names of the witnesses should be sent to the other side within a reasonable time before the hearing, but no later than the date specified in the letter from the ASAC chair.

Opening statement. At the beginning of a review or hearing, the ASAC chair reads a formal statement that will generally include the following:

  1. The chair will issue a greeting.
  2. The chair will state that this is a review or hearing before the University of Wisconsin-Madison Academic Staff Appeals Committee under the jurisdiction of appropriate sections of ASPP and that conduct of the review or hearing is governed by sections of ASPP.
  3. Unless the appellant has requested an open meeting, the chair will entertain a motion for the Committee to conduct the review or hearing in closed session, and if the motion is carried, will state that the review or hearing is now in closed session.
  4. The chair will state for the record the date, time, and location of the proceeding and will identify himself or herself and name the other members of the panel.
  5. The chair will name the employer, the appellant, and the actions by the parties leading to the appeal.
  6. The chair will state the issue before the panel.
  7. The chair will identify the documents that constitute the record in the case.
  8. If the parties have indicated they will be making a presentation to the committee, the chair will note for the record the identities of those appearing for each side.
  9. The chair will state which party has the burden of proof. The party having the burden will present first. In a review the chair will state the time allowances for the presentations and summaries. In a hearing the chair will state the procedures for the testimony of witnesses and cross-examination.
  10. The chair will state that following the presentations, the Committee will recess in closed session to deliberate and make its recommendations concerning the matter.
  11. Finally, the chair will ask whether either party has any matters to raise before proceeding with the review or hearing.


The ASAC chair presides during the proceedings. The chair will direct the parties to begin and end their presentations. The chair will decide any matters that arise during the proceeding, and the ruling of the chair prevails. The party having the burden will make the first presentation, followed by the responding party. After the presentation each party will have time for rebuttal or summary. In a hearing, if witnesses are called, a reasonable amount of time for cross-examination shall be provided. The panel members may also ask questions of the witnesses, as they deem necessary. After completion of the rebuttal phase of the review or hearing, the parties are excused and the panel members remain in session to deliberate their recommendation on the question. The deliberations are usually concluded the same day.


The panel will continue its review and deliberate its decision, which is based on the written record and the oral presentations. Per ASPP 9.03, “The Committee shall seek any additional information it needs to reach a decision.” If panel members feel they need additional information, they may request it through the Secretary of the Academic Staff. When ready to vote on the question, the chair asks for a vote by roll call. Votes in favor and opposed are recorded. A simple majority decides the panel’s recommendation to the Provost.


The recommendation to the Provost is drafted by the chair in consultation with the ASAC counsel and is reviewed by all panel members for accuracy. The opinions of the minority on the panel may be noted or attached to the recommendation. Once agreement is reached, the recommendation is signed by the chair and forwarded to the Provost for their consideration. By agreement with the ASAC, the Provost has made it a practice to consult with the ASAC chair if considering overturning the recommendation of the ASAC.

Suggestions for Participants

  • When considering the amount of written documentation to provide to the panel, submit only sufficient documentation to support your position. More is not necessarily better.
  • Make an oral presentation. It is advisable to make an appearance before the panel to support your case, in order to highlight the main points supporting your position, and to answer questions.
  • Be organized. Prepare your line of argument and have references to documents and exhibits ready. Omit references that are not germane to the question before the panel.
  • Introduce no surprises. All documentation must be identified, submitted, and exchanged before the review or hearing. Names of all witnesses must be exchanged prior to a hearing.
  • Be timely. Observe deadlines.
  • Maintain a professional demeanor.

Originally prepared by Dennis Auburn Hill, October, 2003; Revised by Barb Gerloff and Meredith Luschen, July 2018