How to Prepare an Effective Grievance

As a state manager, supervisor or confidential employee, you are excluded from the rank-and-file collective bargaining process. However, you do have legal rights.

You have a right to file various appeals with the State Personnel Board and the California Department of Human Resources (CalHR). You also have the right to file a grievance within your department. As a member of the Association of California State Supervisors, you have the right to receive professional representation.

ACSS members are entitled to advice and counsel appropriate to the processing of a grievance or appeal by an ACSS Labor Relations Representative (LRR). The conduct and extent of such representation is governed by ACSS Operating Policy & Procedure file.

You and your ACSS LRR are entitled to a reasonable amount of state work time to prepare and present your grievance. If you have questions about a complaint or grievance, contact your local ACSS Labor Relations Representative.

Time Consideration
It is critical that you adhere to the strict deadlines when preparing and filing your grievance.  Many situations require action within a set number of days. If you miss the deadline, your opportunity to file a grievance may be lost. Contact your LRR quickly and provide materials in a timely manner for efficiency. 

One-time issues and recurring issues have different deadlines for differing actions. Please discuss the details with your LRR for accurate timelines. 

The grievance procedure permits you to grieve an issue via channels to the head of your department and thereafter, if you choose, to the director of CalHR. You should review the procedure in the ACSS Policy File and timeline before you proceed with the preparation of your grievance.

Most important, call ACSS and don't go through it alone!

Grievance Terms

Informal Discussion

The excluded employee or the employee’s representative shall discuss the grievance with the excluded employee’s immediate supervisor. If the grievance is not settled within five (5) work days, a written grievance may be filed.

Formal Grievance – Level 1

A formal grievance may be filed not later than ten (10) work days after the event or circumstances occasioning the grievance. The first level of review shall respond to the grievance in writing within ten (10) work days after the receipt of the formal grievance.

Formal Grievance – Level 2

The grievant may appeal the decision of the first level within ten (10) work days after receipt of the response or date response was due. Within fifteen (15) work days after receipt of the appealed grievance, the person designated by the appointing power as the second level of review shall respond in writing to the grievance.

Formal Grievance – Level 3

The grievant may appeal the decision of the second level within ten (10) work days after receipt of the response or date response was due to the appointing power or his/her designee. Within fifteen (15) work days after the receipt of the appeal, the appointing power or his or her designee shall respond in writing to the grievance.

Formal Grievance – Level 4

The grievant may appeal the decision of the third level within ten (10) work days after the receipt of the response or date response was due to the Director, Department of Personnel Administration or his/her designee.  Within twenty (20) work days the Director, or his/her designee shall respond in writing to the grievance.


The director shall prescribe a standard excluded grievance form and any additional forms to be used in processing grievances. 


The excluded employee and his/her representative, recognized by the Director in accordance with the provisions of Section 599.857, may be authorized a reasonable amount of work time, as determined by the appointing power and approved by the Director, to prepare and present a grievance.

Non-Merit Statutory Appeals

Disputes regarding appeals of layoff, appeals of transfer, petitions to set aside resignation, appeals for reinstatement after automatic resignation shall be filed in writing directly with the director. Such appeals shall be filed in accordance with specific time limits proscribed by applicable statute.

Such appeal may be assigned to a hearing officer for hearing or investigation. The hearing officer is the authorized representative of the director and is fully authorized and empowered to grant or refuse extensions of time, to set such proceeding for hearing, to conduct a hearing or investigation in every such proceeding, and to perform any and all other acts in connection with such proceeding that may be authorized by law or by this article.


Within thirty (30) days after service of a copy of the decision any party may file a written petition for rehearing with the Director. Within thirty (30) days after such filing, the Director shall serve a copy of the petition upon the other parties to the proceeding. 

Within sixty (60) days after service of the petition for rehearing, the Director shall either grant or deny the petition in whole or in part. Failure to act upon a petition for rehearing within the ninety (90) day period is a denial of the petition. If a rehearing is granted, the Director may rehear the case itself on all pertinent parts of the record of the prior hearing and such additional evidence and argument as may be permitted by the Director.

Decision Becomes Final When

Unless a proper application for rehearing is made, every decision shall become final thirty (30) days after service by the Director of a copy of such decision upon the parties to the proceeding in which the decision is rendered.