To File Or Not To File A Grievance? That Is The Question.

You come to work one day and are unexpectedly told by your current supervisor (whom you like) that you will now be reporting to a different supervisor, one that is very unpopular, and one that you don’t like. You ask why you are being reassigned to a different supervisor and are told vaguely that the change is in the best interests of your section. Your response is that you are going to file a grievance.

Is a change in supervisors grievable? Let’s see.

Your Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) defines a grievance in Article 3.1:

“A grievance is defined as a dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this written MOU, or departmental rules and regulations governing personnel practices or working conditions applicable to employees covered by this MOU.”

What does this mean?

It means, among other things, that there has to be a specific violation of the MOU or a departmental rule or regulation for a situation to be grievable. It also means that a situation can be grievable if it involves:

  • A violation of labor law
  • A violation of City rules and policies, particularly the City’s Administrative Code
  • Disparate Treatment
  • Past Practice

If your complaint doesn’t constitute an issue regarding the interpretation of the MOU or fall into any of the above categories then you probably don’t have a grievance.

So, let’s go back to the change in supervisors. Does the change in supervisors constitute a disagreement over the interpretation of the MOU? No. Does the change in supervisors violate applicable labor laws or City rules and regulations? No. Does it involve disparate treatment or the violation of a past practice? Probably not. Consequently, the change in supervisors is not an issue that is grievable.

Let’s take a look at another situation that is often referred to when discussing possible grievances. You are issued a Notice to Correct Deficiencies (NTCD) that you believe is inaccurate and unjustified.

Is that a grievable situation? Probably.

Under Article 1.10b of your MOU, you are required to be treated fairly by your supervisors and management. Receiving an inaccurate and unjust NTCD is not being treated fairly and, therefore, constitutes a violation of your MOU. Consequently receiving the NTCD is grievable.

That is not to say that all NTCD’s are grievable. If the NTCD that is issued is a reasonable and fair response to the situation at hand, then there is nothing to grieve.

Incidentally, the fact that you received an NTCD for something that you did and your co-worker did the same thing but did not receive an NTCD does not automatically make your NTCD grievable.

Here is another situation. You are a management analyst and your supervisor directs you to do the work of a senior management analyst because he/she transferred and no one has taken over his/her position. Is this grievable? Yes. Management does not have the right to assign you to work above your paygrade without paying you appropriately. To do so is a violation of Article 4.3 of your MOU. Therefore, working out of your classification is grievable.

What constitutes a grievance and what does not is often unclear. If you think you have a situation that you want to grieve the best thing to do is to immediately contact your EAA labor representative. He or she will assess the applicable facts and advise you accordingly.

Keep in mind that time is of the essence throughout the grievance process. There are timelines to be met. If those timelines are not met your grievance can be denied for that reason alone. You have 10 business days from the date of the concerned incident to initiate the grievance process.

One last thing. It is a violation of the City’s Employee Relations Ordinance and your MOU to be retaliated against for having filed a grievance. If you believe that management has retaliated against you for having filed a grievance immediately notify your labor representative.

For more information about grievances, read Article 3 of your MOU.

Hopefully, you will never need to file a grievance. However, if you do, please contact your EAA labor representative as soon as possible. EAA’s staff is here to assist you in the grievance process I n every way possible.

– Paul Marks, EAA Labor Representative


List of Departments Represented by Paul Marks

  • Cannabis Reg
  • City Attorney
  • Emergency Management Department (EMD)
  • Fire Civilian
  • Fire/Police Pension
  • LACERS (Retirement)
  • LA Convention Center
  • Municipal Police Officers (MPO)
  • Police – LAPD

Get in contact with Labor Rep Paul Marks