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The grievance meeting is an employee’s opportunity to share their concerns in their entirety. The supervisor’s role is to actively listen and gather as much information as possible. The supervisor should not respond during the grievance meeting, other than to ask questions or restate/paraphrase the employee’s statements to check for understanding.
Things to learn at the grievance meeting
Things to learn at the grievance meeting include:
- What caused this grievance to be filed?
- What are the names and classifications of employees involved?
- Why does the employee or Union/Association believe the collective bargaining agreement, Handbook, and/or Ordinance was violated?
- What are the dates, time, and places that the problem occurred?
- What precedent has been set in previous grievances?
- What exactly is this employee looking for as a remedy to the situation?
- Why is this problem arising now?
- Is this an ongoing problem?
- What other considerations are involved?
Considerations for supervisors when meeting with grievant(s)
- Use the buddy system.
Make sure you have another supervisor present when the meeting is taking place to serve as a witness and take notes. It is difficult to listen attentively when you are trying to write, and it is good to have someone to talk to about the situation once the meeting is complete. If you have difficulty obtaining another supervisor/witness, please contact your agency’s assigned HR Business Analyst or Labor Relations staff to assist you.
- Give the person a good hearing—do not interrupt.
Let the grievant tell the story in its entirety. When the story is over ask questions, but take no position. Ask the grievant to repeat the story if there is anything that you do not understand. Then restate the story in your own words.
- Get all the facts.
Make sure to obtain dates, times, places, and anything else that you think might be relevant. Ask questions that require more than a yes or no. By the end of the meeting you should have a thorough understanding of what the grievance entails, including the relief sought. Don’t forget to ask the grievant exactly what they are looking for to resolve the grievance and why that is an appropriate resolution, regardless of your position.
- Do not personalize the issue or defend your position.
The grievance meeting is solely designed for the grievant to tell their story, regardless of who the employee is, the employee’s work history, or how many grievances they may have filed in the past; treat every grievance the same way.
- Do not respond during the meeting.
Even when you feel certain of your response, focus on gathering the facts and listening. Responding to the grievance is a separate section for a reason. Do not respond to the grievance during the grievance meeting.
- The union representative may take an active role.
During a grievance hearing the union representative may take an active role, responding to questions and representing the Union’s interests. (This is very different from their role in a pre-determination hearing or investigatory interview.)