The grievance procedure contains four phases:
- Management Resolution Steps
- First Resolution Step
- Second Resolution Step Meeting
- Third Resolution Step
- Qualification for Hearing
- Review of Hearing Decisions
Prior to the initiation of a grievance, an employee should discuss the dispute with her supervisor in an attempt to resolve the problem informally. Even when such discussions are ongoing, however, the written grievance must be initiated within 30 calendar days of the date that the employee knew, or should have known, of the event that formed the basis of the dispute. This 30-day requirement may be extended only if the parties agree. TO BE ENFORCEABLE, SUCH AN AGREEMENT MUST BE IN WRITING.
To access the grievance procedure, an employee must meet each of the following three criteria:
- Must not be listed as exempt from the Virginia Personnel Act under §2.2-2905 of the Code of Virginia;
- Must have been a non-probationary employee of the Commonwealth at the time the event that formed the basis of the dispute occurred; and,
- Must have been employed by the Commonwealth at the time the grievance is initiated (unless the action grieved is a termination or involuntary separation, in which case the employee may initiate a grievance within 30 days of the termination or separation).
Agency management may deny an employee access to the grievance procedure on any of these grounds at any point following receipt of a written grievance. If management denies the employee access to the grievance procedure, the employee may ask the agency head to grant her access. The employee must make a written request to the agency head within 5 workdays of receiving notification that access has been denied.
The employee may appeal to EDR the agency head’s decision to deny access. This appeal must be made within 5 workdays of the employee’s receipt of the agency head’s decision. To appeal to EDR, the employee must submit her grievance form to the agency's Human Resources Office within 5 workdays of receiving notice that access to the grievance procedure has been denied. Within 5 workdays of receipt of the appeal request, the agency's Human Resources Office must mail a copy of the grievance record, complete with all attachments, to EDR. (The original grievance record should be kept by the agency).
If EDR denies the employee access, the employee may appeal to the circuit court. If the employee wishes to appeal to the court, the employee must submit her grievance form to the agency's Human Resources Office within 5 workdays of receiving EDR's access decision. Within 5 workdays of receipt of the appeal request, the agency's Human Resources Office must copy and mail the grievance record, complete with attachments, to the circuit court in the jurisdiction in which the grievance arose. The Human Resources Office must list the EDR Director as a copy recipient on the cover letter to the court accompanying the grievance record. The decision of the circuit court is final and nonappealable.
If the employee is ultimately determined to have access to the grievance procedure, the grievance is returned to the appropriate resolution step for a response on the merits.
An employee must initiate a grievance on a fully completed “Form A.” The “Form A” should be available at all state Human Resources Offices and is also available on EDR’s web site. The “Form A” must state the claim, the facts in support of the claim, and the relief requested. If there is not enough space on the “Form A” for a complete statement, attachments may be used. Once the grievance is initiated, additional claims may not be added. Assuming an employee has access to the grievance procedure, any employment related issue may be grieved, at least through the management steps, so long as the six rules set forth below are followed.
An employee’s grievance must:
- Be presented to management within 30 calendar days of the date the employee knew or should have known of the event that forms the basis of the grievance;
- Arise in the agency in which the employee works;
- Pertain directly and personally to the employee’s own employment in a position with access to the grievance procedure;
- Not be used to harass or otherwise impede the efficient operations of government;
- Not have been pursued through another state process (for example, a formal discrimination complaint filed with the Office of Equal Employment Services); and,
- Not challenge the same management action challenged by another grievance.
If any of these requirements are not met, management may notify the employee, using the “Form A,” that the grievance will be administratively closed due to noncompliance. (See "Grievance Initiation Noncompliance", §6.2). The agency must also notify the employee on the “Form A” that the employee has the right to request a compliance ruling from the EDR Director to overturn the closing of the grievance. Any such ruling request must be made within 5 workdays of the notice of closure and be accompanied by a copy of the grievance record, complete with all attachments. (The original grievance record should be kept by the agency). The agency may raise noncompliance at any point through the agency head’s qualification decision.
The employee bears the burden of establishing that the grievance was timely initiated. Thus, employees are strongly encouraged to document the initiation date, for instance, by using certified mail or requesting a date-stamped photocopy of the “Form A.” (Note: for purposes of establishing when a mailed grievance was initiated, the postmark date is considered the initiation date).
To promote improved employee relations, management may allow a grievance to proceed through the resolution steps, even if the grievance does not comply with the above requirements. If the agency intends to allow the grievance to proceed through the management steps but plans to deny a hearing due to noncompliance, management should inform the employee of that intention as soon as it becomes aware of the noncompliance.
As a general rule, an employee must initiate a grievance with the first-step respondent, who is usually his immediate supervisor. However, under the following circumstances, the grievance is initiated with someone other than the immediate supervisor:
- A grievance alleging discrimination or retaliation by the immediate supervisor may be initiated with the next level supervisor;
- A grievance involving a termination, demotion, suspension without pay, or any other action that results in a loss of wages may be initiated with the second-step respondent, under the single management step Expedited Process. Within five workdays of the second-step respondent, the employee may request the agency head to qualify the grievance for a hearing;
- In grievances involving formal discipline (Written Notices) issued by someone other than the employee’s immediate supervisor, the employee may initiate the grievance with the person who issued the discipline; and
- A grievance challenging the application of the layoff policy should be initiated with the Human Resources Office of the employee’s agency. (Note: if the grievance involves a pay loss, the employee may use the expedited process and initiate the grievance with the second-step respondent (see #2 above)).
Revised August 30, 2004