Grievance Procedures

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This directive is for internal use only and does not enlarge an employee’s civil liability in any way. The directive should not be construed as creating a higher duty of care, in an evidentiary sense, with respect to third party civil claims against employees. Violations of this directive, if proven, can only form the basis of a complaint by the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office for non-judicial administrative action in accordance with the rules and laws governing employee discipline.
DIRECTIVE TYPE: POLICY SUBJECT: Grievance Procedures NUMBER: PERS-504.00
APPROVED BY: Sheriff Ken Christesen EFFECTIVE DATE: 1/31/2016
NMLEA STANDARDS: PER.08.01 – PER.08.04 LAST MODIFIED: 1/13/2016 LAST REVIEW: 5/30/2017


PURPOSE:


The purpose of this policy is to ensure employees are protected from improper disciplinary actions, discrimination, and provided acceptable working conditions. This policy also serves to outline the procedures for filing grievances.


POLICY:


It is the policy of the San Juan County Sheriff’s Office to treat all employees fairly regarding employment matters. The Sheriff’s Office utilizes the procedures outlined in the San Juan County Employee Handbook for the filing and resolution of employee grievances.


DEFINITIONS:


The following definitions shall apply for the purposes of this policy:


  • Eligible Employee – Only full-time or part-time regular, non-trial employees are eligible to file a grievance. Clarifications on employment classifications are listed in the San Juan County Employee Handbook Section 3.


  • Grievance – A complaint by an employee concerning alleged deprivation of a presently-existing property right, including: the employee’s working conditions; alleged discrimination against the employee; and disciplinary action taken against the employee. (PER.08.01(A))


PROCEDURE:


Discrimination or retaliation against employees who file grievances is strictly prohibited, and such actions are subject to disciplinary action. The grievance procedures set forth in this policy are only available to eligible employees.


Grievance procedures, to include the maintenance and control of all related records, are coordinated by the San Juan County Human Resources Department. (PER.08.01(E) & PER.08.03(C))


CONDITIONS AND LIMITATIONS


The Sheriff’s Office retains the right under law, regulations, and policy to direct employees in the performance of their duties; to take the necessary actions to achieve proper ends under routine and emergency situations; and to hire, promote, transfer, and assign employees as well as to suspend, demote, discharge, or take disciplinary action against such employees for cause.


GRIEVANCE PROCESS (PER.08.01(B-D); PER.08.02(A-C); PERS.08.03(A & B))


The grievance process utilized by the Sheriff’s Office for suspensions, demotions, and terminations mirror San Juan County’s process. As outlined in the San Juan County Employee Handbook, Section 25:


“The following steps comprise the normal grievance process. The employee’s supervisor or Department Head/Elected Official may waive steps, as appropriate.

  1. Step 1 (Informal Discussion) – Within five (5) working days of any action complained of, the employee must attempt to resolve the complaint through informal discussion with the employee’s immediate supervisor.


  1. Step 2 (Written Grievance)
    1. Written Grievance Required – If the matter cannot be resolved informally in Step 1, the employee shall submit a written grievance to the Department Head/Elected Official. If a Department Head/Elected Official is also the employee’s immediate supervisor with whom the Step 1 grievance had previously been addressed, the employee shall present the written grievance to that person.
    2. Time to File Written Grievance – A written grievance must be submitted within five (5) working days of the Step 1 discussion.
    3. Content of the Written Grievance – Written grievances will be submitted on the established San Juan County ‘Report of Grievance’ form. This form will contain a short and concise statement of the action complained of, brief additional facts as appropriate, the relief requested, and the date when the Step 1 discussion occurred. ‘Report of Grievance’ forms are available in each County department/office, and are also available from the Human Resources Department.
    4. Response to the Written Grievance – The Department Head/Elected Official shall promptly respond in writing to the written grievance, but in any event, within ten (10) working days of the receipt of the written grievance. The response shall be mailed to the employee and copied to the Human Resource Department.
    5. Request for Hearing – If an employee desires a hearing be conducted, a written request must be submitted to the Human Resources Department within ten (10) days of receipt of the response.
    6. Finality – Unless the employee’s grievance concerns the employee’s suspension, demotion or termination, the grievance process concludes with Step 2.


  1. Step 3 (Hearing) – If the grievance concerns the employee’s suspension, demotion or termination, a hearing on the grievance will be conducted unless waived by the employee.
    1. Scheduling the Hearing – The Chief Human Resources Officer shall forward a copy of the employee’s grievance, the Department Head/Elected Official’s response, and the request for a hearing to the Legal Department, who shall schedule a hearing before an independent Hearing Officer.
    2. Hearing Procedure – All hearings shall be conducted in accordance with the County Administrative Procedures for Grievance Hearings.”


The Sheriff’s Office does not utilize a grievance board. As stated in the grievance procedures, the San Juan County Legal Department schedules independent hearing officers. (PER.08.04)


CROSS REFERENCES:


  1. San Juan County Employee Handbook; Section 3 – Employment Classifications
  2. San Juan County Employee Handbook; Section 25 – Grievances
  3. San Juan County “Report of Grievance” Form – Attachment A
  4. San Juan County Resolution No. 96-97-13 “Administrative Procedure for Grievance Hearings”