Grievance systems are formal organizational procedures designed to address employee complaints. These employee complaints, or grievances, can range from general disputes about organizational policies (e.g., disputes about interpreting the vacation policy), to specific disputes about how an employee was treated (e.g., conflict with coworkers), to disputes that have legal implications (e.g., racial discrimination).

Grievance systems vary by organization. However, grievance systems typically have several (four to five) hierarchical steps that are used to address conflicts in the organization. Often the lowest level or step of a grievance system in a nonunionized organization is a written complaint or informal discussion with the employee’s immediate supervisor. The first step in a unionized organization usually requires employees to talk or file a complaint with the union steward (representative). Higher ...

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