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Human Resources Department

Sonoma County Public Defender Investigators’ Association (SCPDIA)

2023 - 2026 SCPDIA Memorandum of Understanding:   Appendix B: Departmental Grievance Procedure

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What’s on this Page

  • Section 1: Definitions
  • Section 2: Representation
  • Section 3: Discrimination
  • Section 4: Time Off
  • Section 5: Informal Grievance Procedure
  • Section 6: Formal Grievance Procedure
  • Section 7: Additional Rules

Read Next: Appendix C

Section 1: Definitions

  1. GRIEVANCE. A grievance is a complaint by an employee, a group of employees or the Sonoma County Public Defender Investigators Association (herein after, the "Association") on behalf of an employee(s) (all herein after referred to as a "grievant") represented by the Association concerning an alleged violation or misapplication of one or more of the written departmental policies affecting an employee's terms and conditions of employment and within the scope of representation as defined by Government Code 3504 and the County's Employee Relations Policy. All other matters are excluded from the definition of grievance and from this grievance procedure, including but not limited to:
    1. complaints concerning matters which are specifically covered by an existing Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) covering the grievant whether or not they are subject to any grievance or dispute resolution procedure thereunder;
    2. complaints, the resolution of which would require a change in or an amendment to law, ordinance, or the resolutions, rules or regulations of the Board of Supervisors;
    3. discrimination complaints which are subject to the County's Equal Opportunity Discrimination Complaint Procedure;
    4. dismissals, suspensions, and reductions in rank or compensation; and
    5. in addition to (4), above, all other matters appealable under the Civil Service Ordinance and/or the Rules of the Civil Service Commission.
  2. GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE. This grievance procedure is the method by which a grievant may seek management action to relieve or eliminate the grievance as defined above.
  3. GRIEVANCE APPEALS COMMITTEE. A Grievance Appeals Committee of three members shall be a forum for consideration of grievances. Committee members shall be composed as follows:
    1. One person selected by the Association representing the grievant.
    2. The Director of Human Resources or designee.
    3. The third member of the Committee shall be mutually selected by the first two Committee members chosen by the grievant and the Human Resources Director. The third member of the Committee must be so selected within ten (10) days of the day the first two members were selected. If the first two Committee members are unable to agree upon a selection, then the first two Committee members shall strike names off of a list of the current members of the County Civil Service Commission until only one name remains, who shall be the third member of the Committee. The order of striking shall be determined by a coin toss. No Committee member may be selected who is employed in the department in which the grievant is employed. Committee members shall select a chairperson. The Human Resources Department shall provide secretarial services to the Committee. The Committee shall meet on call of its chairman and with mutual agreement, as to date and time of the meeting, among the grievant, the department head and the other Committee members. Deliberations of the Committee shall be informal, confidential and provide a full and fair hearing of the grievance and proposed solutions without formal rules of evidence or a stenographic or electronic recording of the proceedings.
  4. DAYS. The term "days" as used in this procedure shall mean regular County business days, Mondays through Fridays, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but excluding formal County holidays or weekends.

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Section 2: Representation

An employee may be represented in any step of this grievance procedure by a representative of the Association which represents the grievant as a County employee. No member of the Grievance Appeals Committee may represent the grievant.

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Section 3: Discrimination

No employee shall be subjected to discrimination, coercion, restraint, or reprisal by reason of good faith utilization of this grievance procedure.

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Section 4: Time Off

Reasonable time off without loss of regular pay from normal County work duties shall be accorded to an employee for the purpose of presenting a grievance, representing the grievant in a grievance proceeding or serving as a member of the Grievance Appeals Committee subject to the condition that before leaving the employee's usual duties the employee shall obtain the permission of the employee's immediate supervisor. Such permission shall not be unreasonably withheld.

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Section 5: Informal Grievance Procedure

It shall be the mutual responsibility of employees and management to endeavor to resolve grievances informally at the lowest practicable level of management. To this end, the grievant shall first present the grievance to the grievant's immediate supervisor in an informal meeting within ten (10) days after the occurrence of the circumstances giving rise to the grievance or when the grievant first actually knew, or could have reasonably known of them. The grievant may request the meeting be held at any reasonable time, and the supervisor shall meet with the grievant as soon as reasonably practicable after receipt of the request. In the meeting, the grievant and the supervisor shall review the grievance. The employee shall fully and fairly explain: the alleged action or inaction by the employee's Department which caused grievance; the written departmental policy allegedly violated by the Department; and the remedy the grievant believes will resolve the grievance. The parties shall cooperate in seeking a resolution of the grievance. If questions beyond the scope of the supervisor's authority or knowledge are involved, the supervisor may consult the supervisor's superiors or other County officers. The supervisor shall present an informal, oral decision with supporting reasons to the grievant within ten (10) days after the meeting.

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Section 6: Formal Grievance Procedure

An employee whose grievance is not satisfactorily resolved by the informal procedure may institute a formal grievance. The formal grievance shall conform to the following:

  1. All formal grievances shall be in writing on the form appended to this resolution. A supply of forms shall be maintained in each Department covered by this procedure and shall be readily accessible to all employees.
  2. Within five (5) days after receipt of the supervisor's oral decision in the informal proceeding, the grievant may file a formal grievance on the form prescribed. The grievant shall provide the necessary information called for at the top of the form and in Steps I and II of the grievance form in clearly legible writing, printing, or typing. The grievant shall file the original form with the immediate supervisor.
  3. The immediate supervisor shall meet with the grievant within five (5) days after filing of the grievance form for discussion of the formal grievance. The immediate supervisor shall complete "Supervisor's Decision" portion of the form and return it to the grievant within five (5) days after their meeting. A copy of the supervisor's decision and attached grievance documents shall also be filed with the Human Resources Director.
  4. The grievant may appeal the decision of the immediate supervisor by completing the first part of Step III of the grievance form and filing it with the next higher level of supervision (identified by the Department Head) and to the grievant's Department Head within seven (7) days after receipt of the supervisor's decision. The functions of the Department Head hereunder may be performed by the Department Head's duly authorized representative.
  5. The person occupying the next higher level of supervision together with the Department Head, or representative, shall meet with the grievant within ten (10) days after filing of the appeal for discussion of the grievance. The grievant's Department Head shall complete the rest of the Step III "Department Head's Response" and return it to the employee within fifteen (15) days after such meeting. A copy of the Department Head's response and any attached grievance documents shall also be filed with the Human Resources Director.
  6. The grievant may appeal the decision of the Department Head by filing a written request for such appeal to the Human Resources Director within fifteen (15) days after receipt of the Department Head's decision. The Human Resources Director shall immediately deliver a copy of the written appeal to the grievant’s Department Head. The grievant shall within three (3) days of filing the appeal submit to the Human Resources Director the name of the Grievance Appeals Committee member selected by the grievant or the Association. The Human Resources Director shall select a Committee member to represent the Human Resources Director and then provide assistance as necessary to select the third Committee member in accordance with the selection process in Section 1(c), above. The grievant's written appeal shall provide full details of the facts of the grievance and why the Department Head's response did not satisfactorily resolve the grievance.
  7. To the extent possible, the Grievance Appeals Committee shall schedule the appeal for hearing to occur not later than ten (10) days from the date all three members of the Committee are selected and shall forthwith notify the grievant and the grievant's Department Head of the time and place at which the appeal will be considered. The Committee may reach and announce its advisory decision at the close of the hearing or it may retire and deliberate in private before announcing its advisory decision. In order to be properly reached, an advisory decision by the Committee must be agreed upon by at least two (2) members, be in writing, and show both the findings of facts and reasoning of the decision. The Committee shall deliver, with proof of service, a copy of its advisory decision to the Department Head, the grievant, the Association and the Human Resources Director within ten (10) days after conclusion of the hearing.

The decision of the Grievance Appeals Committee shall be advisory and not be binding on the Department Head. The decision of the Grievance Appeals Committee may not be appealed further through any grievance or appeal process established for Sonoma County employees.

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Section 7: Additional Rules

This grievance procedure shall be subject to the following additional rules:

  1. The time limitations herein specified may be extended only by written consent of the grievant and the Department Head. In the absence of such time extension, failure by a grievant to present the grievance or to appeal a decision within the time limits prescribed shall be deemed a resolution of the grievance. Failure of the management representative to meet with the employee or render a decision within the time limits herein specified shall justify appeal to the next step in the grievance procedure.
  2. An employee shall include all current grievances in one grievance. To the degree practicable, grievances shall not be duplicated. If several employees in a single Department wish to present grievances which are the same or substantially similar, those grievances shall be joined into one.
  3. All meeting and hearings under this procedure shall be conducted in confidential and private sessions in order to protect the confidentiality of the matters under review.
  4. Any dispute or question as to whether a particular complaint or grievance by an employee is covered under this procedure shall not be subject to determination by the Grievance Appeals Committee.

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