Colorado Grievances: What you need to know

A grievance is a complaint by an employee or a group of employees about an alleged violation, misinterpretation, or inequitable application of a union contract or, in a nonunion environment, any personnel policies or rules or regulations. Grievances are usually thought of as the way for recognized unions and employers to settle their disagreements. Virtually all collective bargaining agreements have some type of grievance procedure language. However, these types of agreements are not for the exclusive use of unions.
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As an effective way to control legal costs and to stem the proliferation of employee lawsuits, many private employers have taken an interest in the various methods of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) to deal with employee grievances. ADR agreements do not preclude an action in a court of law, but the agreements are helpful in avoiding litigation, especially attorneys' fees. Among the more common forms of ADR are mediation and arbitration. Many states, including Colorado, have arbitration and mediation statutes.
Under the state's Labor Peace Act, parties to a labor dispute may agree in writing to have the director of the Department of Labor and Employment act as an arbitrator or to name arbitrators to arbitrate any or all of a dispute. The director can also initiate mediation for any labor strife, either by the request of one of the parties or on his or her own initiative. The director appoints an impartial mediator to try to alleviate the threat of strikes or lockouts. However, neither the director nor the appointee has any power to compel the parties to mediate (CO Rev. Code Sec. 8-3-112, Sec. 8-3-113).
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