|From time to time, employees may have complaints about their working conditions or with personnel decisions that are made. When this happens, employees, and their union representatives if applicable, may have the right to file a grievance and, in some cases, an appeal to seek redress of the complaint. Grievance and appeal procedures give employees the opportunity to get an objective review of individual or group complaints about working conditions or about employment decisions affecting them.
THE ADMINISTRATIVE GRIEVANCE SYSTEM (AGS)
The AGS is the grievance system used by employees who are not covered by a labor agreement with a union. Employees who are covered by a labor agreement must use the negotiated grievance procedure. More information on the negotiated grievance process is provided in the section below.
An employee may file an administrative grievance on his/her own behalf and may be accompanied and advised by a representative of his/her own choosing. A formal administrative grievance must be filed within 15 days of the event giving rise to the grievance. Not every complaint by an employee is covered by the AGS. For example, an employee who disagrees with the classification of his position may not grieve this under the AGS. Instead, the employee must use the classification appeals procedure. More information on what is excluded from the AGS is contained in the references provided.
The use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) approaches such as mediation, settlement conferences, peer review panels, or other ADR techniques is strongly encouraged. If you have filed a grievance and would like to try to resolve it through ADR, please inform your supervisor or the EEO Office.
THE NEGOTIATED GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE
A grievance is any complaint:
- by any employee concerning any matter relating to the employment of the employee;
- by any labor organization concerning any matter relating to the employment of any employee; or
- by any employee, labor organization, or agency concerning:
- the effect or interpretation, or a claim of breach, of a collective bargaining agreement; or
- any claimed violation, misinterpretation, or misapplication of any law, rule, or regulation affecting conditions of employment.
As with the AGS, not every employment matter is covered by the negotiated grievance procedure. Consult the applicable labor agreement to determine what is covered and the timeframes for filing a grievance. Also, ADR is encouraged as a means to resolve grievances.
Under the negotiated grievance procedures, unions have the right to present and process employee or union grievances. Employees are allowed to present their own grievances, i.e., to represent themselves in the procedure, if they so desire. However, where this happens, the union has the right to be present during the process. Any negotiated grievance not satisfactorily resolved by the grievance process is subject to binding arbitration. Only the union or management may invoke arbitration.
MERIT SYSTEMS PROTECTION BOARD (MSPB) APPEALS
The Merit Systems Protection Board is an independent, quasi-judicial agency in the Executive branch of the Federal Government that serves as the guardian of Federal merit systems. The Board is composed of three members who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. They serve overlapping, non-renewable 7-year terms. The Board is bipartisan. No more than two of its three members may be from the same political party.
Below are some of the personnel actions the MSPB has jurisdiction to decide if the matter is appealed:
- Removals of employees due to unacceptable performance or conduct
- Suspensions from duty of more than 14 days
- Reductions in grade of non-probationary employees
- Denials of within grade increases
Initial MSPB decisions are made by an Administrative Law Judge. Both the employee and the agency may appeal the initial decision to the full three-member board.