Grievances are usually thought of as the way for recognized unions and employers to settle their disagreements. Virtually all collective bargaining agreements provide for some type of grievance procedure. These types of agreements, however, are not for the exclusive use of unions. Many states provide for the settling of disagreements between an employer and nonunion employee through arbitration or mediation.
Often, states distinguish between public and private employees and provide a different method of settling grievances for each. For private employers, many states allow the language of a written grievance procedure 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, the state law will control. 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.