Article K - Grievances and Appeals

Grievances Against Employees

Should a patron bring any grievance against an employee in the library, the employee should immediately report such to the Director, Team Leader, or staff member in change. The Director or Team Leader will discuss the problem with the employee and patron and reach a solution. The circumstances regarding the complaint will be documented and a copy placed in the employee’s file.

Employee Grievances

It is the policy of the Athens Regional Library System to resolve employee grievances informally if at all possible. Both supervisors and employees are expected to make every effort to resolve conflicts as they arise. While consideration, cooperation, and common sense can solve most situations, a few require further attention.

Definition:
A grievance is a written complaint made by a Library employee alleging:

  • that his or her employment or productivity has been adversely affected by unfair treatment by the library; and/or
  • unsafe or unhealthy working conditions; and/or
  • erroneous or capricious application of Library policies and procedures; and/or
  • unlawful discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, handicap, or other protected classification.

Coverage and Applicability:
This policy applies to all regular-status employees. Employees in the regular probationary period, temporary, volunteer, and contractual workers are excluded from this policy and procedure.

How to File

A Library employee may file a written grievance with the immediate supervisor/Team Leader within five(5) working days after the occurrence of the incident which he or she is grieving or with five(5) work days after becoming aware of the incident . The written grievance must:

  • be submitted to the immediate supervisor/Team Leader in writing.
  • state the specific grievance and the specific relief desired.

Two Steps

Except for those employees who report directly to the Library Director, the employee grievance procedure will provide for two steps for all eligible employees. For those employees who directly report to the Library Director, Step Two shall be initiated. Typically:

  • the immediate supervisor or team leader will hear the grievance in the first step; and if not satisfactorily resolved and the employee desires
  • the Library Director will hear the grievance in the second step.

NOTE: If any eligible employee is denied the opportunity to present his or her grievance as prescribed by this policy or if the employee is threatened or subjected to threats or harassment when presenting the complaint, the employee should immediately notify in writing the Library Director or, in cases which the Library Director is the alleged initiator of threats or harassment, the employee may file a direct appeal to the Personnel Committee of the Library Board as herein after provided.

Step One - Immediate Supervisor/Team Leader Level:

An eligible employee who feels he or she has a grievable claim should submit the claim in writing as described in this policy. The claim should be submitted to his or her immediate supervisor/team leader with a copy to the Library Director within five (5) work days following the incident being grieved or five (5) days after becoming aware of the incident.

Exceptions: In cases where ongoing sexual harassment is alleged, the above procedures do not apply. Consult the Sexual Harassment Policy for Athens Regional Library System.

The immediate supervisor/team leader shall meet with the employee to discuss the specific grievance and the relief desired by the employee. After hearing all relevant information provided by the employee, the immediate supervisor/team leader will communicate a decision in writing to the employee within five (5) work days of meeting with the employee. A copy of the written decision is to be given to the Library Director.

Step Two - Library Director

If the grievance is not resolved during Step One, the employee may submit the grievance, and any supporting documentation, in writing to the Library Director within five (5) work days after receipt of the decision from Step One.

The Library Director may:

  • consider the grievance on the basis of the written documentation submitted.
  • conduct, or designate an impartial individual to conduct, a separate investigation of the grievance, including a meeting with the employee to discuss the complaint.

After consideration of the employee’s grievance and upon review of all submitted documentation and relevant information provided by the employee, the Library Director will communicate a decision in writing to the employee within ten (10) calendar days after receiving the original written grievance from the employee. Such decision shall be final. A copy of the decision will be sent to the employee’s immediate supervisor.

Supervisory Responsibility

It shall be the responsibility of supervisory and management personnel at all levels to hear and consider the grievable claims of employees without prejudice, retaliation, or reprisals and to take necessary corrective action as appropriate. No supervisor shall deny any employee the right to take the grievance to the next step in the grievance procedure when it cannot be settled satisfactorily at the lower level. No employee shall be disciplined or discriminated against in any way because of the use of the grievance or appeals procedure.

Non-grievable issues include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Issues being dealt with by other administrative procedures.
  2. Manner and method of performing work assignments
  3. Temporary work assignments.
  4. Budget and organizational structure.
  5. Selection of an individual to fill a position unless it is alleged that the selection is in violation of the Library’s written policy.
  6. Work assignments which do not result in a demotion or salary reduction.
  7. Content and rating of reports of performance.
  8. Disciplinary actions other than reprimands.
  9. Any matter which is not within the jurisdiction or control of the Library Director or Library Board.
  10. Internal security practices as established by the Library Director or Library Board.
  11. Decision, policies, practices, or resolutions made by the Director or passed by the Library Board which are not job or work related and which do not contradict these policies.

Grievable Issues are:

  1. Allegations of unlawful discrimination because of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, age or religious or political opinions or affiliations.
  2. Sexual harassment.
  3. Retaliation for using grievance procedure.
  4. Erroneous, arbitrary or capricious interpretation or application of personnel policies, procedures, rules, regulations, ordinances and statues.
  5. Unsafe or unhealthful working conditions.
  6. Any matter specifically included as grievable by department policy or procedure.

Appeals

It is the policy of the Athens Regional Library Board to provide due process to employees who have a property interest in their jobs and/or those who claim that one of their constitutionally protected rights has been violated.

Procedures

Definition:
An appeal is a written statement made by an employee to (1) the Library Director or (2)Personnel Committee of the Library Board if such an employee is under the direct supervision of the Library Director as a result of:

  • an adverse action (i.e., suspension without pay, disciplinary demotion, or disciplinary termination);
  • unlawful discrimination against an employee;
  • unlawful or unjust coercion or reprisal;
  • or other unlawful or unjust practices that have an adverse impact on an employee

All reasons except an adverse action must be grieved before they can be appealed to the Library Director or Library Board.

Coverage and Applicability

This policy applies to all regular-status employees. Employees in regular probationary period, temporary, volunteer, and contractual workers are not eligible for appeal rights.

How to File

In order to file an appeal, an appeal, an appellant must first file a written appeal with the Library Director within five (5) working days of learning of the event or decision being appealed or the effective date of an adverse action.

The appeal shall contain:

  • a written statement describing exactly what is being appealed.
  • the specified relief desired.

The Library Director or Personnel Committee of the Library Board, in the case of an appeal from an employee under the direct supervision of the Director, shall set a time and a place for a hearing to be held not less than five(5) days or more than twenty (20) working days after receipt of the request, and shall notify the employee thereof.

Appeals Hearing

While intended to be less formal than a court hearing; the appeals hearing is intended to be orderly. Judicial rules of evidence shall not apply. However, all testimony shall be made under oath. The Library Director or Personnel Committee of the Library Board will compile evidence, prepare findings of facts, and arrive at conclusions.

Both the library and the employee may represent themselves at the appeals hearing or may choose to be represented by legal counsel.

The employee and his or her representative may be privileged to use a reasonable amount of work time as determined by the appropriate team leader or supervisor in conferring about and presenting his or her appeal.

The Decision

The Library Director or Personnel Committee of the Library Board shall render a decision within five (5) work days following the appeals hearing to the employee and provide copies of the decision to the employee and the respective team leader or supervisor. The decision of the Library Director or by a majority vote of the Personnel Committee of the Library Board shall be final.

In the event that an adverse action is modified or reversed, the employee may be allowed back pay and benefits as consistent with the modification or reversal.

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