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A “grievance” means an alleged violation of the rights given to employees under the Sierra County Code or the applicable memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the employee’s bargaining unit for which there are no other procedures in existence which may be used to resolve such problem. A grievance shall not include a complaint for which other procedures exist to resolve the matter, including without limitation, dismissals, or suspensions. Grievances may be used to contest written reprimands to employees. In addition, a grievance shall not include issues more appropriately resolved by use of the meet and confer process.

No complaint shall be considered a grievance unless the involved employee initiates the grievance process within 15 calendar days after the occurrence of the event or events on which the grievance is based or 15 days following the discovery of the acts giving rise to the grievance, but in no event later than 180 days from the event or the initial event. With respect to all periods specified in this chapter, time limits may be waived by mutual written consent of the parties.

A. Who May Use. Any employee may use this procedure, regardless of membership in any recognized employee organization. In using this procedure any employee may choose to be represented by the representatives of his or her employee organization.

B. Communications in Writing. All grievances except those at the first level shall be in writing. The written grievance shall specify the basis of the grievance and the solution or outcome desired by the grievant. Resolution of a grievance shall be limited to the facts and issues specified in the written grievance.

C. Decision. When any decision is rendered at any level and is not appealed to the next level it shall become final. All those concerned shall abide such final decision. If the person assigned to hear the grievance fails to respond within the time limits set forth below, the grievant may not later than 15 days following the expiration of such time limit follow the next step in the below procedure.

D. Use of County Time. Provided, that it does not interfere with the proper conduct of the business of the county, the appointing authority may allow the use of a reasonable amount of county time for the preparation of a written or oral grievance, not to exceed two hours.

E. Procedure.

1. First Step. Any employee or group of employees having a grievance shall first discuss the grievance with the appointing authority or his or her designee. This step shall not require a written grievance but every effort shall be made to resolve the grievance. Within 15 days the appointing authority or designated person shall render his decision. If the grievant or the appointing authority is not satisfied with the decision, he may not later than 15 days following the decision, follow the next steps outlined below; if the next step is not followed within such 15 days, the decision becomes final.

2. Second Step. If an oral grievance is not satisfactorily resolved, a written grievance setting forth the factual details of the grievance may be submitted to the appointing authority. The appointing authority shall personally meet with the grievant as soon as is practicable, generally no later than 15 days from the presentation of the written grievance, to discuss the grievance and shall render a written decision to the grievant within 15 days of such meeting. The grievant may request that the appointing authority hear from reasonable and appropriate witnesses where the appointing authority determines there is a significant question as to the facts as alleged by the grievant and a resolution of some or all of the facts is important to the resolution of the grievance. The decision to hear from witnesses shall be at the sole discretion of the appointing authority. Any meeting with the grievant may be continued by the appointing authority if necessary for the purpose of hearing from witnesses. Thereafter and within 15 days, the appointing authority shall issue a written decision on the grievance. If the grievant is not satisfied with the written decision, he or she may not later than 15 days follow the next step outlined below; if the next step is not followed within such 15 working days, the decision becomes final.

3. Third Step. An appeal may be made of a decision to deny the specific relief sought by a grievance, which grievance and request for relief must be consistent with the purpose of the grievance procedures in addressing the denial of a specific right given to an employee. An appeal may be submitted to the Clerk of the Board of Supervisors only after the completion of the second step. The Clerk shall thereafter submit the written appeal to the Board and the Board may summarily deny the appeal or, at the Board’s discretion, set the matter for an informal hearing. If set for hearing the appellant shall be notified of the time and place for a hearing which should occur within three months. At the conclusion of the hearing the Board may render a decision or take the matter under submission. The Board may sustain, overrule or modify any decision by the appointing authority. Any hearing may be continued by the Board if deemed necessary. Grievance hearings shall be open to the public unless the subject matter is such that the Board is allowed to consider the matter in closed session (such as a personnel matter involving complaints of employee misconduct involving the rights of the grievant).

4. Upon the filing of any grievance, neither the employee, his or her representative(s) or the appointing authority or his or her staff shall discuss the matter of the grievance with any member of the Board of Supervisors, except through the procedures set forth in subsection (E)(3) of this section. (Ord. 1057, eff. 3/19/15; Ord. 1046, eff. 8/3/13; Ord. 1015, eff. 7/2/09; Ord. 976, eff. 7/20/06; Ord. 878, eff. 2/18/99; Ord. 771, eff. 5/7/91; Ord. 710, eff. 3/18/86; Ord. 611)