Grievance Processing

I-16-17


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
March 28, 2016 When Superseded 16  

Overview

Employee concerns and complaints (grievances) are routinely received by the D.C. Department of Human Resources (DCHR). Grievances must be processed in a specific manner pursuant to law, regulation, and policy at the agency level. DCHR's Policy and Compliance Administration--; specifically the Employee Relations team--is responsible for overseeing the grievance process as the personnel authority. This instruction outlines the procedures for handling all incoming grievances from eligible employees.


Filing a Grievance

Employees and applicants who wish to file a grievance must ensure that they identify a matter subject to the grievance procedure, file a grievance within the time provided for the particular matter, and complete the required paperwork to submit to the grievance official, which includes a concise account of the alleged violation.

Matters Subject to Grievance Procedures and Time Requirements

The following table represents matters that are subject to the grievance procedures and the time requirements for filing a grievance.

Matters Subject To Grievance Procedures Type of Action Time Requirements
Reprimand Corrective Within 10 calendar days of the issue date of the final decision.
Reassignment Corrective
Suspension of less than 10 workdays Corrective
Enforced leave of less than 10 days Enforced Leave
Suspension of 10 or more workdays Adverse Within 45 business days from the date of the alleged violation, knowledge of the events or actions that are the basis for the alleged violation, or the final action, whichever is later
Reduction in grade Adverse
Removal Adverse
Summary Suspension Summary
Summary Removal Summary
Enforced leave of 10 or more days Enforced Leave
Violations of the Personnel Regulations N/A

In addition to these, employees may also grieve any other matter that they believe adversely impacted them, including any other violation of a rule or policy identified in the D.C. personnel regulations, within 45 business days.

Filing Deadlines. A grievance is considered filed when actually received by the grievance official. The burden of establishing the date of receipt rests with the employee or applicant. Grievances should be filed with the grievance official by email, mail, or hand delivery to the grievance official's principal business address.

Required Documentation

Employees and applicants must utilize the attached Government of the District of Columbia Grievance Form (Attachment 1) provided by DCHR to file a grievance. At a minimum, the grievance should include:

  1. The name, email address, and phone number of the applicant or employee seeking the relief;
  2. For employees, the name, e-mail address, phone number, and agency of his or her immediate supervisor;
  3. The name of the agency at issue;
  4. A concise written statement of facts, including dates, that establishes the alleged violation;
  5. A written statement as to the applicant or employee’s injury; and
  6. The relief sought by the applicant or employee.

The grievance form is available on DCHR’s website and should be sent directly to the grievance official with any other supporting documentation.

Applicants

Applicants seeking employment with agencies under the authority of the Mayor or independent agencies are able to file a grievance related to hiring procedures which they believe were improperly followed, such as the correct application of preference points during the applicant ranking process. Applicants who believe an employee violated any of the policies related to applicants contained in the D.C. personnel regulations and who wish to file a grievance must do so within 45 business days of the notification of the hiring decision, the date the applicant knew or should have known of the hiring decision, or the effective date of the selectee’s appointment, whichever occurs first.


Grievance Officials

For employees, the grievance official is their immediate supervisor or the immediate supervisor’s direct superior if there is conflict of interest. When the action being grieved was initiated by the immediate supervisor, the immediate supervisor’s superior shall serve as the first level grievance official; neither the proposing nor deciding official can serve as a grievance official. The grievance official for applicants seeking employment is either the Director of DCHR, for agencies under the authority of the Mayor, or the independent agency head or their designee, for independent agencies.

[Graphic: Identifying the Grievance Official]


Initial Grievance Review

Grievance officials must make a preliminary determination as to whether the grievance meets the criteria for filing a grievance. This includes determining if the matter addressed in the grievance materials is subject to grievance procedures and verifying that the grievance was filed by the required deadline date. Within five (5) business days of receipt, the grievance official must do one (1) of the following:

  1. Acknowledge receipt and begin processing the grievance in preparation for the first level grievance review;
  2. Deny the grievance as being a matter not subject to review;
  3. Deny the grievance as being untimely; or
  4. Request the grievant to supply additional information.

DCHR serves as the grievance official for all applicants seeking employment in agencies under the authority of the Mayor. All grievances for applicants received by a subordinate agency shall be transferred to DCHR for review within 24 hours of receipt.

Evaluation

Grievance officials should first determine whether the grievance is timely. If this criterion is met, the grievance official should then evaluate the content of the grievance to determine if the matter is subject to review. If there is uncertainty, the grievance official should prepare a list of questions that would help him or her identify the core issue or incident that led to the alleged violation. The questions can be posed directly to the grievant or included in a request for additional information to the grievant.

Requesting Additional Information

When additional information is requested, grievance officials should provide the grievant a reasonable amount of time to respond to the inquiry. While the regulation does not outline a specific amount of time to receive additional information after the initial review, it is recommended that the grievance official allow the grievant at least ten (10) business days from the date the information was requested to respond. Once the grievant responds, the grievance official will have an additional five (5) business days to make an initial determination. If after receiving the information the grieving official determines the matter is not subject to review, the grieving official must provide a written notification to the grievant outlining the outcome.

Acknowledging Receipt

The initial acknowledgment of receipt should include a summary of the alleged violation and the preliminary determination. If the preliminary determination is to advance the grievance to the first level grievance review or request the grievant supply additional information, an overview of the next steps in the process, meeting dates, or a timeline for receiving additional information should be included. If the matter is not subject to review or was received in an untimely manner, the grievance official should indicate the reasons why the grievance is being dismissed. The acknowledgment of receipt should be sent by mail or hand-delivered to the grievant’s address of record within five (5) business days of receipt of the initial grievance. For recordkeeping purposes, grievance officials are advised to send information by certified mail or another shipping mechanism that provides proof of delivery.

Initial Grievance Review at a Glance
1. Review the information presented and verify the grievance was filed in a timely manner
2. Make the preliminary determination to process as a 1st level grievance, request additional information, or deny the grievance
3. Notify the grievant in writing of the determination by acknowledging receipt
4. Review any requested information received and notify the grievant of the outcome.

First Level Grievance Review

Within five (5) days of determining the matter is subject to review and acknowledging the receipt of the grievance, the grievance official must schedule an interview to start the first level grievance process.

[Graphic: First Level Grievance Review Process]

Interviews with Grievants

Unless a grievant has already attempted to pursue mediation, at the initial interview, the grievant should be informed of his or her rights to elect mediation. If mediation is declined, the grievance official should proceed with the interview.

The initial interview with the grievant allows the grievance official an opportunity to learn about specific allegations, facts supporting those assertions, and the relief being sought by the grievant. During the interview, the official should take copious notes and prepare a summary of the findings in writing.

Interviews with Other Subjects

The grievance official must interview the subject of the grievance and any additional witnesses deemed appropriate for the grievance. Discretion should be used in the selection of additional witnesses. Generally, witnesses should be persons who have direct knowledge of the alleged violation(s).

First Level Grievance Report or Decision

Within five (5) days of the initial grievant interview, the grievance official will issue a first level grievance decision and report based on the totality of the facts. If the official finds that the grievance is substantiated by the facts, they will specify the remedy and the date the remedy will be implemented. If the official finds that the grievance is not substantiated, he or she must deny the grievance. For recordkeeping purposes, grievance officials are advised to send information by certified mail or another shipping mechanism that provides proof of delivery.

Grievant First Level Response 

Grievants have five (5) days from the issuance of the first level grievance decision to notify the grievance official that they are not satisfied with the decision. The notification must include any additional arguments and documents that support their position. Within two (2) days of receipt of this information, the grievance official will advance the grievance to the second level review along with any documents related to the grievance proceedings.


Second and Third Level Grievance Reviews

Should a grievant notify the grievance official in writing that he or she is not satisfied with the outcome of the first level grievance review, the second level grievance review will commence. If the grievant is not satisfied with the outcome of the second level grievance review, he or she may request a third level grievance review within five (5) days of the issuance of the second level grievance decision.

[Graphic: Second & Third Level Grievance Review Process]

Second and Third Level Grievance Officials

Once a grievance advances to the second or third level grievance process, grievance officials other than the grievant’s immediate supervisor’s supervisor will review the grievance. A second level grievance official is a person in the grievant’s chain of command who reports directly to the agency head. The third level grievance official is the agency head.

Reports and Decisions

The second and third level officials review all information forwarded along from the initial and subsequent reviews and render a decision based on the totality of the facts. If the official finds that the grievance is substantiated by the facts, they will specify the remedy and the date the remedy will be implemented. If the official finds that the grievance is not substantiated they will deny the grievance. All grievance decisions should outline the facts leading to the decision and, if applicable, any information requesting an additional review. Third-level grievance decisions should be sent to the grievant’s principal address within 21 days of receiving the request for review. For recordkeeping purposes, grievance officials are advised to send information by certified mail or another shipping mechanism that provides proof of postmark and/or delivery.

Grievant Responses

Grievant’s who do not agree with the outcome of a second or third level grievance decision must notify the first level grievance official in writing within five (5) days that they are not satisfied with the decision and request a third or final review, respectively. Upon receipt of this notification, the grievance will advance to the third level grievance official or, for the final grievance review, the official will forward the grievance materials to DCHR or the personnel authority for review.

As with the initial filing of the grievance, the burden of establishing the date of receipt of a request for a second, third or final level review rests with the employee or applicant. Responses and requests for higher level reviews should be submitted to the grievance official by email, by mail, or by hand delivery to the official’s principal business address.


Final Grievance Review

When a grievance is escalated to a final grievance review, the grievance will be reviewed and decided by the personnel authority. Agencies under the personnel authority of the Mayor will have their grievances reviewed by DCHR. If the grievant is an employee of DCHR, the grievance will be reviewed and decided by the City Administrator or his or her designee.

When the grievance is received by the personnel authority, all information obtained in previous reviews including interviews and other documentation will be examined thoroughly. After reviewing the documentation, the personnel authority will issue a decision outlining the facts. If the official finds that the grievance is substantiated by the facts, they will specify the remedy and the date the remedy will be implemented. If the official finds that the grievance is not substantiated they will deny the grievance. The decision of the personnel authority will be final and not subject to any further grievance or appeal before any administrative body or court.

The personnel authority will deliver the decision to the agency and the grievant no more than thirty (30) days after receiving the final grievance review request.


Collective Bargaining Agreements

Any valid negotiated grievance procedure established within a collective bargaining agreement supersedes and replaces the grievance procedures outlined in this instruction.


Authorities

The information provided in this instruction is pursuant to Chapter 16 of the D.C. personnel regulations, Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave; and Grievances.


Applicability

The information in this instruction applies to all applicants and employees of all District agencies except The District of Columbia Superior Court and Court of Appeals; The District of Columbia Board of Education; The University of the District of Columbia; The District of Columbia Public Schools; District boards and commissions; and Advisory Neighborhood Commissions.


Definitions

As used in this instruction –

“Adverse action” means a suspension of ten (10) workdays or more, a reduction in grade, or a removal.

“Agency” means any unit of the District of Columbia government, excluding the courts, required by law or by the Mayor of the District of Columbia to administer any law, rule, or any regulation adopted under authority of law. The term “agency” shall also include any unit of the District of Columbia government created by the reorganization of one (1) or more of the units of an agency and any unit of the District of Columbia government created or organized by the Council of the District of Columbia as an agency, and shall include boards and commissions as described in D.C. Official Code § 1-603.01(13).

“Agency head” means the highest ranking executive official of an agency.

“Days” mean calendar days for all periods of more than ten (10) days; otherwise, days are workdays.

“Disciplinary action” means a corrective or adverse action taken against an employee.

“Manager” means an individual responsible for controlling or administering all or part of an agency or its operation. The term “manager” includes all individuals who supervise others and are employed in the Executive, Excepted and Management Supervisory Services, and similar managerial at-will employees.

“Personnel authority” means an individual with the authority to administer all or part of a personnel management program as provided in subchapter IV of this Title 1 of Chapter 6 of the Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act.

“Removal” means the involuntary separation of an employee from District government service.

“Reprimand” means a written, official censure of an employee that is placed in the employee’s Official Personnel Folder.

“Summary action” means an action taken to immediately suspend or separate an employee pursuant to § 1616.

“Suspension” means the temporary placing of an employee in a non-duty, nonpay status.

“Supervisor” means an individual who supervises another employee or his or her activities.


Additional Information

For additional information concerning this instruction, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Policy and Compliance Administration, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to dchr.policy@dc.gov.


Attachments

  1. I-16-17