Grievance Law & Legal Definition


A grievance in the employment context refers to a specific, formal notice of employee dissatisfaction expressed through an identified procedure. Grievance procedures typically define within how many days after the incident or situation complained of a grievance must be filed, in what form it must be filed, with whom it is filed, and define rights such as the right to a hearing, representation at such hearing, the right to a timely response, and rights to an appeal.

Grievances are usually based upon a violation of a law, violation of a term in an employment contract, or a violation of a past practice. A past practice grievance usually arises when management unilaterally, and without notice to the union, changes an established procedure or disciplines a worker for following a past practice.

When an employee is a member of a labor union, the procedures for filing a grievance are defined in the agreement and policies established between the union and each employer. Procedures vary by employer, but an employee grievance is typically submitted to the union representative. If the employee is unsatisfied with the response, there may be an appeals procedure, which varies by employer, according to the collective bargaining agreement.