Grievances are usually thought of as the way for recognized unions and employers to settle 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. Many states provide for the settling of disagreements between employers and nonunion employees through arbitration or mediation.
Many states distinguish between the public and private sectors and provide a different method of settling grievances for each. For private employers, many states allow the written language of a grievance procedure agreement to be controlling, similar to a contract. However, if the language in a private agreement is contradictory to applicable law or is silent on an issue, state law controls. For public employers, a grievance procedure is usually set out by state statutes and is strictly followed.
Even in a nonunion workplace, grievances can be subject to regulation under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA).In addition, in situations for which it applies, the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) preempts contrary state laws that limit or bar agreements to arbitrate. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the FAA also preempts state law that would give jurisdiction to a court or agency rather than to the arbitrator (Preston v. Ferrer, 128 S.Ct. 978 (2008)). There is additional information..