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Can a Lawyer Help with a Federal Employee Administrative Grievance?

Filing a federal employee administrative grievance can be a tricky process.  Each grievance must be filed in accordance with the guidelines of the agency in question. Legal guidance may ease this process for you. 

Federal workplace tensions can be high, but they may be even more noticeable during the Covid-19 pandemic. Some problems are easily handled in house, while others require the filing of a federal employee administrative grievance. Here’s what you need to know if you find yourself in a situation requiring attention.

Why File an Administrative Grievance?

Federal employees typically file an administrative grievance when they are unhappy about a particular event or situation that cannot be handled through the complaint process of the Merit Systems Protection Board or the Equal Employment Opportunity Act. It may also be that they want to resolve their complaint in an informal manner.

The Most Important Part of Filing a Federal Employee Administrative Grievance

Technically, the most important part of filing a federal employee administrative grievance is to follow the appropriate process for your particular agency. However, on the personal side, it is important for you to be flexible and willing to compromise in order to successfully resolve your issue at this level.

Two Types of Grievances

Typically, two different types of grievances are filed by federal employees. They include administrative grievances and union grievances. Federal employees who are not part of a union file administrative ones, while those individuals who are part of a union file a union grievance. Union grievances are often handled by specific members of the union, whereas administrative grievances often fare better when legal counsel is obtained.

Beginning the Grievance Process

The initial phase of the grievance process requires you to notify your supervisor. Depending on your agency’s policy you may need to:

  • File the written notice first and then notify your supervisor verbally
  • Notify your supervisor verbally and then file the written notice

Following the Steps for the Grievance Process

It is important to recognize that the number of steps to get through this process varies according to the agency’s policy. Expect a minimum of two steps and a maximum of four steps. During this process, both a grievance representative and the federal employee are present.

The first step after the presentation of the written grievance is an in-person meeting between the grievance representative and federal employee. The employee’s attorney may also be present. During this meeting the attorney delivers the basis of the grievance and the federal employee presents additional information on the events or situation.

Next, the employee offers a compromise resolution for consideration. The acceptance or dismissal of this proposal is delivered at a later date.

In some agencies, a meeting between the federal employee and the supervisor in question must take place. The employee receives the ruling on this meeting later.

Options When the Grievance Process Fails

If your administrative grievance did not go as you would like, you have three options:

  • Ask for an administrative hearing
  • Offer additional information to strengthen your case
  • Ask for arbitration

No matter what type of federal employee grievance you are filing, hiring an attorney to offer guidance or represent you is valuable. Not only may it help you save time and frustration in figuring out what to do, but it can also help you win your case. Please do not hesitate to obtain legal help if you are filing a federal employee administrative grievance.