Section 12. Grievance Procedures
The grievance process is a way to settle grievances between the County and an employee as quickly as possible to promote efficient operations and maintain positive morale in the workplace. These procedures apply to all County employees (not volunteers) except those in the Sheriff’s Office or Community Supervision & Corrections.
12.01 GRIEVABLE MATTERS
12.011 A grievance is a violation, misinterpretation, misapplication, or disparity in the application of a specific law, ordinance, resolution, written or unwritten policy, or rule regarding wages, hours of work, or conditions of work that adversely affects an employee.
a. Examples of grievable matters include, but are not limited to:
- Misapplication of a salary ladder;
- Misinterpretation of a department mandatory overtime policy;
- Unfair treatment in the application of a department shift bidding policy;
- Violation of the County compensatory time policy.
b. Examples of matters that are not grievable include, but are not limited to:
- Employee performance evaluations that are not directly related to wages;
- Written reprimands;
- Promotion decisions, unless covered by a salary ladder.
Try to resolve complaints using all available avenues within your department before filing a formal, written grievance. We encourage Department Heads and supervisors to work with employees to resolve grievances informally. Efforts at informal resolution are unrelated to the formal grievance procedures and do not extend the time limits set out below. Grievances filed after the time limit(s) are automatically denied.
Grievances based upon an employee’s termination from employment are denied upon filing. If at any point in the grievance process, the employee separates from the County, the grievance process ends.
12.012 If at any point in the grievance process the Department determines that the subject of a grievance is not grievable as defined above, the Department notifies the employee in writing before the next applicable deadline. Employees may appeal that determination to the Grievance Resolution Committee by submitting written notice to the County Grievance Coordinator within 5 working days of receiving it. The County Grievance Coordinator or her designee has 5 days from receipt of the appeal to set a meeting date for a panel of the Grievance Resolution Committee to evaluate the appeal and issue a response. If the Committee determines the issue is grievable, the grievance resumes at the point it left off. If the Committee determines that the issue is not grievable, the grievance process ends. The Committee’s decision is final.
12.013 The grievance procedure does not apply to allegations of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, genetic information or any other protected class in accordance with federal and state laws. Discrimination allegations are handled under the County’s Non-Discrimination Policy.
12.02 GENERAL PROVISIONS FOR FORMAL GRIEVANCES
12.021 To file a grievance you must follow these steps in the order given. You have 5 days to take the first step in the Grievance Process. If a supervisor, Grievance Coordinator, or Department Head fails to respond within the time limits, the employee must take the next step in the procedure to continue with the grievance process.
12.022 Time limits begin on the first day after the applicable occurrence, initial notification, filing, response, or recommendation. Working days do not include weekends or County Holidays.
Example: Marco timely appeals a grievance to his Grievance Coordinator, who fails to respond within 5 working days.
To continue with the grievance, Marco must appeal the grievance to the Department Head within 5 working days after the deadline his Grievance Coordinator missed.
Example: Doug receives notification that he is going to be suspended. His suspension is scheduled to begin the following week. In order to file a grievance, Doug must submit Form 100 to his supervisor within 5 working days of receiving the initial notification of his suspension.
12.023 Employees must use the County grievance forms. The forms are available from the Department’s Grievance Coordinator, the Department’s human resources staff, from Human Resources & Risk Management, and via the HRRM website.
12.024 Employees get their usual rate of pay for time spent during normal working hours in the grievance proceedings.
12.025 Employees may represent themselves or be represented by someone else when presenting a grievance.
12.026 Commissioners Court appoints the County Grievance Resolutions Committee.
12.027 Department Heads designate a Department Grievance Coordinator and notify all employees of the designation. Any questions regarding the grievance process should be directed to the employee’s Department Grievance Coordinator.
12.03 FORMAL GRIEVANCE STEPS
12.031 Step 1 – Supervisor
Complete Form 100 and give it to your supervisor within 5 working days of the occurrence. Keep a copy for yourself. Your supervisor will note the date received on Form 100. Your supervisor has 5 Working Days from receiving Form 100 to investigate, meet with you, and respond in writing on County Form 200.
12.032 Step 2 – Department Grievance Coordinator
You may appeal the supervisor’s determination by completing Form 300 and giving it to your Department Grievance Coordinator within 5 working days of receiving Form 200. The Department Grievance Coordinator has 5 working days from receipt to investigate, meet with you, and respond in writing on Form 300.
If the grievance involves allegations of discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, pregnancy, disability, genetic information, or any other protected class, then the supervisor MUST:
1) refer the grievance to the Director of Human Resources & Risk Management for handling, and
2) notify the employee in writing of the referral.
12.033 Step 3 – Department Head
You may appeal the Department Grievance Coordinator’s determination by completing Form 400 and giving it to your Department Head within 5 working days of receiving Form 300. The Department Head has 5 working days to investigate, meet with you, and respond in writing on Form 400.
12.034 Step 4 – Grievance Committee
12.0341 You may appeal the Department Head’s determination by completing Form 500 and submitting it to the County Grievance Resolutions Committee Chairperson/Coordinator within 5 working days of receiving Form 400. The appeal must:
- state the reason for the appeal; and
- pertain to the original grievance filed; and
- include all written responses pertaining to the specific complaint; and
- include your signature and the name of your representative, if you have one.
12.0342 The County Grievance Coordinator schedules a hearing within 5 working days from receipt of Form 500. The Resolutions Committee reviews and carefully studies your complaint and the Department’s responses. Each party may present evidence. Upon hearing the grievance, the Resolutions Committee votes to adopt a response and recommendation.
12.035 Step 5 – Appropriate Authority
12.0351 Either the employee or the Department Head may appeal the Grievance Resolutions Committee’s determination to a governing body other than Commissioners Court that has appropriate supervisory authority over the Department Head, if one exists, and has established a grievance procedure. For Juvenile Probation employees, the appropriate authority is the Juvenile Board. The appealing party must submit a written appeal with the County Grievance Coordinator within 10 working days of receiving the Grievance Resolutions Committee’s determination. The appeal must state the reason for the appeal and specify whether appealing party wants it to be heard at a public hearing or in Executive Session. The County Grievance Coordinator places the appeal on the appropriate agenda.
12.0352 In accordance with all applicable laws, the appropriate authority considers the grievance and takes whatever steps it deems necessary under the circumstances.
12.036 Step 6 – Commissioners Court
12.0361 Either you or your Department Head may appeal the determination made in the highest applicable step described above to Commissioners Court by filing a written appeal with the County Grievance Coordinator within 10 working days. The appeal must state the reason for the appeal and specify whether the appealing party wants it to be heard at a public hearing or in Executive Session. The County Grievance Coordinator places the appeal on the Commissioners Court Agenda.
12.0362 In accordance with all applicable laws, Commissioners Court considers the grievance and takes whatever steps it deems necessary under the circumstances, including referring the matter back to the governing body referenced in Step 5.