Problematic Grievance Bill Will Mandate Change in Local Procedures

January 22, 2018

VACo opposes HB 1471 (Hugo), which is a refiling of similar bills defeated during the 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 legislative sessions. HB 1471 seeks to make several changes to the local grievance procedures that apply to all localities throughout the Commonwealth. The bill, which also has some provisions regarding local school board grievances, has been assigned to House Counties, Cities and Towns Committee.

HB 1471 seeks changes to the local government grievance procedures that make the process more cumbersome, lengthy, and subject to inconsistent outcomes. Currently, many localities use a hearing officer or existing grievance boards or panels. This bill would revert to a three-member panel at the choice of the grievant. These panels are cumbersome to assemble and often have no experience in conducting such procedures, resulting in delay and inconsistency.

HB 1471 also eliminates a number of longstanding impartial grievance panels used by localities that currently work well. In addition, the bill would shift interpretation of local government policy from the Chief Administrative Officer of the locality to the Commonwealth’s Attorney, who may have no knowledge or experience in employment policy.

The main proponent of this bill in the past has been the Police Benevolent Society, and it is important to note that law enforcement employees have the option to choose either the local grievance process or the process provided under the Law Enforcement Officers Procedural Guarantee Act, thus making the change to the local grievance procedure unnecessary.

VACo Contact: Phyllis Errico, Esq., CAE

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