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Writing  a  Grievance

"An employee's formal complaint regarding working conditions or failure by management to stick to its contract with the employee."

 In order for a grievance to be successful you must be able to cite a specific clause in your contract that you feel the Administration is in violation of.  In the alternative you can cite a violation of Policy & Procedures or Rules and Regulations which are usually incorporated in your contract.  Many issues that officers want to grieve are deemed by the Administration to be "managerial prerogative" and therefore, the grievance is denied.  Is this really the case?

Any officer can file a grievance, he does not need the Union's permission prior to filing.  It is only when the grievances reaches the Arbitration level that the Union members will be asked to vote on "financing" the grievance through the Arbitration process.  If you have a strong union, you will surely receive strong support from the very beginning of the process.  Unfortunately, not all unions are strong and it may take the filing of the grievance to spark hope and support from your Union.  Do not be discouraged, a good grievance will carry itself.

Officers that are contemplating writing a grievance should start by going through their Department's Policy & Procedure Manual to determine which policies and procedures apply to the situation they are grieving.  Officers should request that their Union post a copy of these on the Union's website, or in the alternative they should be in a common area, accessible to all officers in the Department.  An officer cannot be disciplined for not following policy that he is not aware exists, therefore, this information must be disseminated to ALL officers, not just the IAB.  Some Departments have "Grievance Forms" that will make it easier for you, just ask.

Some Unions have officers appointed to handle the grievances.  Large Departments may have a Grievance Committee Chairman.  If not, the responsibility my fall to the President.  In all instances, you should put something in writing outlining what you are grieving and gather your paperwork prior to handing it to the Union Official.

Officers may be surprised to find Policies & Procedures which have been adopted that very few others are aware of.  An example of this is the Corruption Policy which many Departments adopted at the suggestion of the Chief's Association to dispel public fears of corruption.  What many Chief's did not realize is that this policy lays the foundation for grieving lateral transfers.  A thorough review of the Department's Policy & Procedures will also be beneficial in defending disciplinary matters. 

After going through the Policy & Procedures, and pulling copies of those that apply to the issue you are grieving, you should then move to the Contract and site any contractual paragraphs that apply.  Do not dismay if you can not find the "exact" situation that you wish to grieve, a vague reference is good enough to warrant "interpretation" and bring the grievance.

Keep in mind that grievances are usually not settled in the lower ranks.  This is simply because a Sgt. does not have the authority to correct the issues.  Best case scenario is that the Sgt. states in his written response to you that he agrees with your position but does not have the authority to take corrective action and will move the grievance up the chain of command.

Make yourself thoroughly aware of your grievance procedure both contractually and through your Rules & Regulations.  Chances are that there are two separate ones.  Follow the Contract.  Many good grievances get dismissed on technicalities and the Administration will do its bests to see that you make a technical error.  No matter what they tell you to do, Follow the Contract, step by step.  Stay in your time frame and make sure you copy every Administrator that you are contractually obligated to copy along the way.  Many Administrators will refuse to respond to you in writing, if this occurs, wait the appropriate amount of time as defined in your contract and move on to the next level.

More than likely, the Chief has the final say and will direct those under him to answer in a specific manner and to pass the grievance up through the chain of command to his/her attention.  Those officers filing a grievance should expect that it will be denied up to the Chief of Police and not expect to gain relief prior to the grievance reaching the Chief's level.  The officer can also expect the Chief to be thoroughly agitated by that point in time and to deny the grievance.

Once denied by the Chief of Police the grievance will proceed to the Mayor or governing administration (Department of Public Safety) which will be the first true opportunity to have the matter settled.  Simultaneously, at this point, retaliation and harassment will more than likely begin/continue.  It is very important to thoroughly document these events with dates, times, names of officers involved and nature of event and to promptly grieve these incidents as "retaliation for writing your grievance".   All Contracts have a retaliation clause.

Common Forms of Retaliation include:

*    Giving the officer all the nonsense and nuisance calls;

*    Giving the officer all/every call;

*    Denying time off;

*    Responding to the officer's home to confirm that he/she is sick  when he calls out;

*    Passing over the officer for overtime assignments;

*    Patrolling the officer's neighborhood;

*    Harassing the officer's friends causing alienation, isolation and a hostile work environment;

*    Writing up the officer for equipment violations and other nuisance charges;

These acts of retaliation on the part of the Administration are far more severe than the issue being grieved.  Retaliation for filing a grievance is the equivalent of being untruthful during an internal affairs investigation and can lead to just as severe consequences for the Administration.  Make sure you document and grieve each and every instance.

    This web site is designed for general information only. The information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.


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