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Employees who believe a labor contract or handbook provision has been violated can submit a grievance to their supervisor to have the issue or issues addressed. The grievance process is described in City handbooks, contracts, and the Personnel Rules. A grievance is an opportunity for employees to voice concerns about how workplace policies and practices are being followed.
The fact that a formal grievance procedure exists should not hinder a supervisor’s ability to discuss concerns or complaints in a less formal manner. You can also reach out to the Employee Assistance Program for mediation services to resolve a dispute.
The process for Supervisors to respond to grievances has these steps:
Review the Grievance
Grievances should be presented in writing to the employee’s immediate supervisor.
- Most contracts include an Employee Grievance Report Form for filing grievances. The grievant should provide all of the information required on the report.
If the report is not filled out properly or completely, it should be returned to the grievant with appropriate instructions.
Create a Grievance File
At the point a formal grievance is filed, the supervisor should start a grievance file. This is crucial to all steps of the grievance process, and a reference if the grievance goes to arbitration. The file should contain the following information:
- The grievance.
- Response to the grievance.
- Any documents provided by the employee or the union.
- Notes from the grievance meeting.
- A list of who was present at the meeting.
- Any other pertinent records or policies.
Schedule the Grievance Meeting
- Be timely. The collective bargaining agreements and Handbook contain specific guidelines about when the meeting should be scheduled.
- The grievant should be given at least 24 hours notice.
- This Sample Grievance Meeting Notice should be used as a template for providing written notice of the meeting.
Prepare for the Grievance Meeting
- Read the grievance thoroughly and think the issue through.
- Review the contract or Handbook/Ordinances and departmental policies.
- Check for past practice.
- Talk to other supervisors and Employee and Labor Relations staff.
Hold the Grievance Meeting
The grievance meeting is the employee(s) opportunity to share their concerns.
- Make sure another supervisor is present to observe and take notes.
- Focus on listening and understanding the grievant’s story and/or concerns.
- Gather as much information and facts as possible.
- Do not respond during the meeting—focus on gathering facts and listening.
- In grievance meetings, union or association representatives can take an active role.
Respond to the Grievance
When the grievance meeting is complete, you will need to prepare a response.
- Consider all the information and investigate details before responding.
- Consult with Employee Labor relations if you are uncertain.
- Provide a timely response. Each collective bargaining agreement contains specific time requirements for responding to grievances. It is essential these timelines are met.
- Consider the precedent you set, which can be impossible to reverse.
- Keep it simple. Responding with “no contract violation, grievance denied” or “grievance not disputed” is appropriate. If you prefer to explain the basis for your decision in writing, be concise and to the point.