Our Rights on the Job
Thanks to years of strong advocacy, West Virginia educators have certain employment rights guaranteed by law. These rights are constantly under attack and it is only through our strong, collective power that we preserve and enhance our professional and employment rights.
Educators who feel their rights have been violated can file a grievance, which can be dealt with informally at the county level or formally at the state level. The West Virginia Public Employees Grievance Board is charged with resolving employment disputes between the employers and employees of the state’s executive branch, public institutions of higher education, county boards of education, and county health departments. The Grievance Board consists of the following:
- One person representing the largest labor organization in the state.
- One person representing an education employee organization.
- One employer representative from the executive branch.
- One employer representative from secondary or higher education.
- One citizen member who is not engaged in public or education employment.
The grievance procedure and definitions are outlined below.
- A grievance must be filed within fifteen days of the occurrence of the event that the grievance is based.
- The grievance must be filed with the chief administrator stating the nature of the grievance and relief requested.
- An additional copy of the grievance must be filed with the Grievance Board for data collection.
- The employee may choose to hold a conference or a hearing before the chief administrator. A conference is less formal and does not involve testimony of witnesses, etc.
- The hearing or conference must be held within ten days of receipt of the grievance.
- A written decision must be issued within fifteen days of the conference or hearing.
Appeal from Level One
- If the grievant is not satisfied with the level one decision, it may be appealed to level two. If both the grievant and the chief administrator agree, level two may be skipped and the grievance may go directly to level three.
- Employees who are suspended without pay, dismissed, or demoted may file their complaint originally at level III.
Level Two – Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
- Level two provides an opportunity for the parties to reach an agreement to settle the grievance with the aid of a mediator.
- An appeal must be filed with the grievance board within ten days of receiving an adverse decision.
- Mediation can be conducted by a trained employee of the Grievance Board or by a private mediator if both parties agree and split the cost.
- The Grievance Board must schedule the mediation within twenty days of receiving the request.
- Any agreement reached must be reduced to writing within fifteen days and the parties are bound by it.
- If both parties agree, they can use a new process called Mediation/Arbitration (Med-Arb). If the parties cannot reach an agreement, the Mediator becomes an Arbitrator and issues a final order. Both parties must agree in advance to be bound by the decision and to waive any right to appeal. If this process is successful, it could lead to binding arbitration.
Appeal from Level Two
- If the parties cannot reach agreement, the mediator must provide the parties with a written evaluation of the issues involved as well as a scheduling and discovery order for level three.
- Within ten days of receipt of the report of unsuccessful resolution, the grievant may file a written appeal with the employer and the Grievance Board requesting a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ).
- Upon receipt of the written appeal, the ALJ must contact the parties regarding the date of the hearing, as well as other procedural deadlines.
- Within thirty days following the hearing, the ALJ must issue a written decision to all parties.
Appeal to Circuit Court
- Either party may appeal the decision of the ALJ to the Circuit Court. All appeals are heard in Kanawha County.
- The appeal must be filed within thirty days of receipt of the ALJ’s decision.
Definitions / General Rules
- For regular education employees, this will almost always be the county superintendent of schools.
- For higher education employees, this will generally be the president of the institution.
- Means working days and does not include weekends, holidays, or any days the work place is closed by the chief administrator.
- Any claim by the employer that the grievance was not filed on time must be asserted at or before level two.
- Any claim a grievant makes of untimeliness in the process must be made to the chief administrator within ten days of the default.