Grievance Procedures

No matter how harmoniously a municipality may operate, the reality is there will always be unexpected bumps in the road. At times, these bumps are the result of an employee not meeting expectations, or just not fitting in with the rest of the team. Accordingly, it is important to know the procedures municipalities must follow when handling difficulties with employees, and the potential grievances of those employees.

Does anyone remember Act 10? One of the provisions of Act 10 was that municipalities must provide either a civil service or grievance system to address the concerns and complaints of employees regarding termination, discipline, or workplace safety infractions. To comply with the law, the grievance procedure must: (1) contain a written document specifying the process an employee and the municipality must follow, (2) provide a hearing before an impartial officer, and (3) create an appeal process in which the highest level of appeal is the governing body of the local governmental unit.

Some municipalities have attempted to limit the situations where a grievance procedure may be utilized by the employee by narrowly defining the term “termination” in their ordinances. But early court decisions appear to fall in favor of a broad definition of termination.

If your municipality does not have a written grievance procedure, or has questions regarding the sufficiency of its grievance system given more recent case law, you should contact your municipal attorney for guidance.

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