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Section Five: Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures
SECTION FIVE: DISCIPLINARY AND GRIEVANCE PROCEDURES
5.1     Grievance Procedure

5.1.1   Policy
The appointing authority, department heads and supervisors shall be responsible for enforcing standards of conduct, rules and regulations, and performance standards.  Failure to comply with any of the above may result in disciplinary action.  The type of disciplinary action imposed is at the discretion of the appointing authority and department heads and is dependent upon the nature of disciplinary violation.  Disciplinary action shall include only the following:  oral warning, oral reprimand, written reprimand, suspension, and discharge.  Department heads shall be responsible for preparing written documentation of disciplinary action.  All written documentation shall be provided to the appointing authority, the Personnel Officer, the Personnel Board and the employee and shall be filed in the employee's personnel file in the centralized personnel record keeping system.

5.1.2   Coverage
All employees that have successfully completed the probationary period as required by these regulations.

5.1.3   Disciplinary Action
Department heads and appointing authorities are encouraged to discuss serious disciplinary problems and proposed disciplinary actions with the Personnel Officer to insure that procedures are followed and that contemplated actions are warranted and consistent with practices in the town.

5.1.4   Disciplinary Action Procedure

a.      Oral Warning
A department head or supervisor may issue an oral warning to the employee.  The oral warning shall be presented in a manner minimizing embarrassment to the employee.  The department head or supervisor shall orally communicate to the employee the nature of the deficiency and offer assistance in correcting the deficiency.

b.      Oral Reprimand
Any oral warning which does not correct the deficiency may result in an oral reprimand which shall be noted in the employee's personnel file.  The oral reprimand shall include:  the charge; the specific behavior and dates of the behavior, as appropriate; the warning that continuance of the behavior will result in additional disciplinary action; an offer of assistance in correcting the behavior; circumstances affecting the severity of the disciplinary action and any right of appeal.
        
c.      Written Reprimand
Any oral reprimand which does not correct the deficiency may result in a written reprimand which may be issued by either a department head or an appointing authority.  The written reprimand shall include:  the charge; the specific behavior and dates of the behavior, as appropriate; the warning that continuance of the behavior will result in severe disciplinary action; an offer of assistance in correcting the behavior; circumstances affecting the severity of the disciplinary action and any right of appeal.  A copy of the written reprimand shall be placed in the employee's personnel file.

d.      Suspension
A department head or an appointing authority may suspend an employee without pay for a period not to exceed ten (10) consecutive working days per incident.  Suspension may be in lieu of oral reprimand or written reprimand, and may be effective immediately.  On or before the date of suspension a department head or appointing authority shall furnish the employee with a written statement setting forth the reasons for the suspension, the effective date of the suspension and the date the employee shall return to work.  The notice of suspension shall include:  the charge, the specific behavior and dates of the behavior, as appropriate; the warning that continuance of the behavior will result in severe disciplinary action, including discharge; an offer of assistance in correcting the behavior; circumstances affecting the severity of the disciplinary action; and any right of appeal.  A copy of the written reprimand shall be placed in the employee's personnel file.

e.   Termination

5.1.5   Grievance Procedure

Grievances shall relate to improper application of the Town of Essex’s Personnel Rules and Regulations and shall be resolved in the following manner:

a.      First Step
An aggrieved employee shall discuss any matter of dispute with an immediate supervisor in a mutual effort to resolve any problem or misunderstanding.  Upon failing to resolve any grievance in an informal manner an aggrieved employee may present a grievance in writing to the department head within ten (10) days from the time the employee has knowledge or reasonably should have had knowledge of the occurrence which gave rise to the grievance.  The written grievance shall contain the following information:  the section of the regulation upon which the grievance is based; the occurrence(s) being grieved; applicable dates and time; any pertinent information relative to the grievance; and an indication of the relief that is desired.  The department head within five (5) working days of receipt of the grievance shall provide an answer in writing to the aggrieved employee.  If the immediate supervisor and the department head are the same, the employee may follow procedures set forth in subsection (b) below.

b.      Second Step
If the grievance has not been resolved as provided in (a) above, the aggrieved employee may within five (5) working days after receipt of the written answer from the department head or within ten (10) working days after presentation of the grievance to the department head, present the grievance in writing to the appointing authority.  If the appointing authority and the department head are the same, then the employee shall immediately follow procedures set forth in sub section (c) below.  The appointing authority shall answer the grievance in writing within ten (10) days after its receipt.
        
c.      Third Step
If the grievance has not been resolved as provided in (b) above, the aggrieved employee may, within ten (10) working days after receipt of the written answer from the appointing authority, present the grievance and a request for a hearing to the Personnel Board in writing.  The Personnel Board shall hold a hearing on the grievance and shall respond to the grievance within thirty (30) days after its receipt.  The Personnel Board may support, modify, or reverse the action of the appointing authority, provided, however, such action to modify or reverse a decision shall be by roll call vote of the Personnel Board and the appointing authority seating in joint session.  Any such decision shall be final.

5.1.6   Procedural Protection
Employees may be represented by counsel or other representative during the grievance process.  Any expenses incurred by an employee during the course of the grievance process shall be borne by the employee.  If an employee is required or requested to be present at hearings on a grievance, the employee shall not lose pay for work time lost. Department heads or supervisors shall not retaliate or take any disciplinary action against an employee based on the filing of any grievance.

5.1.7   Failure to Act
Grievances are expected to be filed in a timely manner and all time limits specified in the grievance process shall be met by the employee filing a grievance and the Town.  Any time limit may be extended by written agreement of the Personnel Board and the employee filing a grievance.  Failure of the employee to meet the time limits specified in this section shall result in a grievance being declared null and void.  Failure by the town to act in accordance with the time limits set forth in this section shall be an automatic denial of the grievance and shall move the grievance to the next step.

 
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