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Human Resources Department

Sonoma County Prosecutors’ Association (SCPA)

2023 - 2026 SCPA Memorandum of Understanding: Article 19: Grievance Procedure

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What’s on this Page:

  • 19.1 Purpose
  • 19.2 Definitions
    • 19.2.1 Grievance
    • 19.2.2 Day
    • 19.2.3 Grievant
  • 19.3 Representation
  • 19.4 Initiation Deadline
  • 19.5 Time Limits
  • 19.6 First Step
  • 19.7 Second Step Grievance
  • 19.8 Second Step Response
  • 19.9 Third Step Grievance
  • 19.10 Third Step Response
  • 19.11 Mediation
  • 19.12 Arbitrable Grievances
  • 19.13 Selection of Arbitrator
  • 19.14 Arbitration Panel – Selection of Arbitrator
  • 19.15 Arbitration Issues
  • 19.16 Arbitrator’s Authority
  • 19.17 Binding / Non-Binding Decision
  • 19.18 Arbitrator’s Decision Due
  • 19.19 Arbitration Expenses Shared

Read Next: Article 20: Agency Shop Service Fee

19.1 Purpose

County and Association agree to this Grievance Procedure in order to provide an orderly procedure to resolve employee grievances promptly. This procedure shall become available for grievances which occur after the Board of Supervisors adopts a resolution implementing this Memorandum.

Appendix B contains the Departmental Grievance Procedure, used only for complaints concerning alleged violations or misapplications of one or more written departmental policies.

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19.2 Definitions

19.2.1 Grievance

A grievance is a claim by an employee, a group of employees, or the Association on behalf of an employee(s), concerning the interpretation, application or an alleged violation of an expressed provision of this Memorandum. All other complaints are specifically excluded from this procedure including but not limited to, complaints which arise from the following: all disciplinary actions; all matters concerning employment examinations; all other matters subject to the jurisdiction of the Civil Service Commission; performance review appraisals or denial of a merit increase, except as provided in Section 6.17.4 and any provision of this Memorandum specifically identified as not grievable.

19.2.2 Day

“Day” shall mean a regular County business day, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

19.2.3 Grievant

A “grievant” shall mean an employee, a group of employees or the Association who in good faith has an actual grievance with County over a grievable matter as defined in Article 19.2.1 above.

The Association may file a grievance without naming an individual employee in the grievance provided the grievance alleges a violation of a right or benefit granted the Association under Article 5, Association Rights, of this Memorandum.

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19.3 Representation

At any step of the grievance procedure, the employee may represent themselves, or may be represented by an Association representative who may be a County employee or a non-County employee; however, only the Association may request arbitration of a grievance.

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19.4 Initiation Deadline

The grievance must be initiated within 10 days from the date of the action or occurrence giving rise to the grievance or within 10 days of when the grievant knew of or could have reasonably discovered the action or occurrence.

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19.5 Time Limits

Time limits specified in each step of the procedure shall be strictly observed and may be extended only by mutual agreement of the parties in writing. Failure of a grievant to observe a time limit shall terminate the grievance. Failure of the County representative to whom the grievance is submitted to observe the time limits shall give the grievant the right to move the grievance to the next level.

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19.6 First Step

The grievance shall first be discussed on an informal basis by the grievant with the employee’s immediate supervisor within ten (10) days from the date of the action causing the grievance as provided above. The immediate supervisor shall respond within ten (10) days. Every effort shall be made by the parties to resolve the grievance at this level and may include conferences among supervisory or administrative personnel.  Discussions will be held whenever possible during the grievant’s work hours.

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19.7 Second Step Grievance

In the event the grievant believes the grievance has not been satisfactorily resolved, the grievant shall submit the grievance in writing, with a copy to the County’s Employee Relations Manager, to the immediate supervisor within five (5) days after receipt of the immediate supervisor’s response. The written grievance shall:

  1. Fully describe the grievance and how the grievant is/was adversely affected by the County;
  2. Set forth the specific section(s) of this Memorandum allegedly violated;
  3. Indicate the date(s) of the incident(s) grieved; and
  4. Specify the remedy or solution to the grievance sought by the grievant.

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19.8 Second Step Response

The immediate supervisor shall respond to the written grievance in writing within seven (7) days from the time the written grievance is received. The supervisor shall send a copy of the response to the Employee Relations Manager. The written response shall include:

  1. A complete statement of the immediate supervisor’s position and the facts upon which it is based; and
  2. The remedy or correction which has been offered, if any.

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19.9 Third Step Grievance

If the grievant is not satisfied with the response at Step Two, the grievant may appeal the decision to the next higher level of supervision (identified by the Department Head) and to the Department Head, with a copy to the Employee Relations Manager, within seven (7) days after receipt of the written response at Step Two.

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19.10 Third Step Response

Within ten (10) days after receiving the completed grievance form, the person occupying the next higher level of supervision together with the Department Head, or representative, shall meet with the grievant and thoroughly discuss the grievance. The Department Head shall give a written decision to the grievant within fifteen (15) days after the discussion and send a copy of the decision to the Employee Relations Manager.

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19.11 Mediation

Prior to an arbitration hearing, the parties may mutually agree to request the assistance of a mediator from the State Mediation and Conciliation Service in an attempt to resolve the grievance. The mediator shall have no authority to resolve the grievance except by written agreement of the Association and the County. In the event the grievance is not resolved, neither stipulations, admissions, settlement proposals nor concessions agreed to or offered during mediation shall be admissible in a subsequent hearing.

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19.12 Arbitrable Grievances

A grievance which directly and primarily involves the application, alleged violation, or interpretation of this Memorandum, except as otherwise provided in this Memorandum, is arbitrable. If the grievance is submitted to arbitration by the Association, neither offers of settlement nor concessions for settlement made during the grievance procedure steps prior to mediation shall be admissible in arbitration.

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19.13 Selection of Arbitrator

Following completion of the third step of the grievance procedure, if the grievance is subject to arbitration and remains unresolved, the Association on behalf of the grievant may request arbitration. The request for arbitration must be given to the County Counsel and the Employee Relations Manager in writing within 15 days of the receipt of the response from Step Three. An arbitrator may be selected by mutual agreement of the Association and County.

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19.14 Arbitration Panel – Selection of Arbitrator

If the County and the Association are unable to reach a mutual agreement on the selection of an arbitrator within 24 calendar days from the date the request for arbitration is submitted to County Counsel and the Employee Relations Manager (Section 19.13), the arbitrator next on this list of qualified arbitrators shall be automatically appointed.  Once an arbitrator has been appointed and utilized for an arbitration, that arbitrator shall be placed at the bottom of the list.

  • Chris Burdick
  • Fred D’Orazio
  • Carol Vendrillo
  • Luella Nelson
  • Barry Winograd

Both the Association and the County shall have one preemptory challenge per arbitration. No party shall have more than one preemptory challenge per arbitration.

In the event that such a challenge is made, the parties agree that the arbitrator next in order on the panel list shall be automatically appointed.

If a selected arbitrator is not available to schedule dates during the 90 calendar days after the arbitration is assigned, the arbitrator next in order on this panel list shall be automatically appointed.  The parties may mutually agree to waive the 90 calendar days.

If any arbitrator on the panel becomes permanently unavailable, the parties shall mutually agree on a replacement arbitrator.  In the event the parties are unable to reach agreement on a replacement arbitrator, the parties shall submit a request to the California State Conciliation Service for a list of eleven (11) qualified arbitrators.  The parties shall select the replacement arbitrator by alternately striking names with the first strike determined by chance.

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19.15 Arbitration Issues

The parties shall, within 30 days following the receipt of a written request for arbitration, exchange in writing their understanding of the questions to be submitted to arbitration.  Thereafter, the parties to the arbitration shall use their best efforts to exchange a written summary of the evidence they intend to offer and to reach agreement on and reduce to writing the question or questions to be submitted to arbitration.  The agreed upon question or questions, if agreement is reached, together with the exchanged summaries of evidence and a list of witnesses to be used by each side, shall be submitted to each other and the arbitrator five (5) days prior to the arbitration hearing.

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19.16 Arbitrator’s Authority

The arbitrator shall have no authority to amend, modify, nullify, ignore, add to, or subtract from the provisions of the Memorandum.  The Arbitrator shall consider and make a decision with respect to only the specific issue(s) submitted, and shall have no authority to make a decision on any other issue not submitted.  In the event the arbitrator finds a violation of this Memorandum, the arbitrator shall fashion an appropriate remedy.  The arbitrator shall have no authority to substitute the arbitrator’s judgment for that of the County as to any matter within the County’s discretion under this Memorandum.  The decision and award of the arbitrator shall be based solely upon the evidence and arguments presented to the arbitrator by the respective parties.

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19.17 Binding / Non-Binding Decision

The decision of the arbitrator rendered consistent with the terms of this Memorandum shall be binding upon the Association.  To the extent that the award of the arbitrator is not in excess of $100,000 it is binding on the County.  To the extent that the award exceeds $100,000 per individual grievant, it is advisory. If within sixty (60) days of receiving notice of decision and award requiring an expenditure in excess of $100,000, final action is not taken by the County to implement it, then the arbitrator’s decision and award shall have no force or effect whatsoever as to the amount in excess of $100,000.  The Association may then resort to a court of competent jurisdiction to pursue whatever other legal remedies are available to it under the provisions of this Memorandum.

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19.18 Arbitrator’s Decision Due

Unless the parties agree otherwise, the arbitrator shall render the decision in writing within 30 days following the close of the hearing. The decision of the arbitrator is final as described in Section 16.16. If requested by either party, the decision shall be accompanied by findings of fact and conclusions of law.

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19.19 Arbitration Expenses Shared

The cost of employing the arbitrator shall be borne equally by the parties to the arbitration. All other costs such as, but not limited to, attorney’s fees and witness fees shall be borne only by the party incurring that cost.

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