Grievances and Legal Services

How & Where to File a Grievance

What Is a Grievance? 

A violation, misinterpretation or misapplication of the:

  • District Council (DC) 37 Citywide Contract
  • Social Services Employees Union (SSEU) Local 371 Contract
  • Agency Rules and Regulations
  • Agency Policies and Procedures

What is a Gripe?

A complaint that is not a contract violation

  •  Member has been allowed by location Director to take an additional half-hour during lunch break to
    cash paycheck on payday. Director retires and a new director is assigned to a location. The new director will not allow an additional half-hour on payday for a member to cash paycheck. Member is upset and wants to file a

Member is not entitled to additional half-hour to cash check on payday 

  •  A member has been allowed by the location director and supervisor to take 15 minutes to break in the morning and 15 minutes break in the afternoon. The new director has been assigned to a location and tells a member that member is not entitled to 15 minutes break. Member is upset and wants to file a grievance.

There are no 15 minutes breaks in SSEU Local 371 Contract

  • Member works as a caseworker at HRA. Recently, there was a Provisional Supervisor I posting at her location. Member and others applied and interviewed for the position. Member did not get selected for the position and is upset and wants to file a grievance

Member cannot file a grievance against agency/management since the agency could have appointed caseworker to Provisional Supervisor I position and did not have any obligation to post position and conduct interviews for the position.

Common Grievances

  • Out of Title: SSRT Article VI Section 1(c) – Any duties and responsibilities assigned that are substantially different from the tasks and standards of the member’s title. Must be filed within 30 days of assignment for full back pay if grievance upheld. After 30 days, back pay to the date of filing.
  • Unprofessional Conduct: SSRT Article VIII – Grievance can be filed against management if demands for such behavior to cease and desist are not successful. 
  • Violation of Past Practice – Employees have the right to the continuation of certain practices that are not in the contract, but have been in place for an extended period of time and have been accepted (explicitly or implicitly) by both union and management.
  • Time and Leave: Citywide Article V – Improper annual leave denials

Time And Leave

Summer Peak Hours 

  • Memorial Day to September 30th
  • Requests for 5 continuous days or more must be submitted in Citytime or other agency approved mechanism
  • “Tentative” location submissions are not sufficient as official request and approval
  • Requests must be made within 45 days of the requested time, and at least 7 days in advance
  • Agency has seven working days to approve or deny request

Sick Leave

  • Sick leave periods are January 1-June 30 and July 1 to December 31. Employees can use up to 5 undocumented sick days in a sick leave period.

  • An employee who has exceeded the allowable undocumented sick leave in a sick leave period shall be required to submit medical documentation before sick leave may be approved

  • The requirement shall remain in effect until the employee has worked a complete sick leave period without being on sick leave
    more than two times

  • An employee can take up to 3 undocumented sick days without having to submit a doctor’s note

  • An employee must submit a doctors note within 5 days of returning to work

Floating Holiday

  • The Floating Holiday, Lincoln Birthday, cannot be requested before the official observance of Lincoln’s Birthday.
  • Floating Holiday must be requested 30 days in advance.
  • Floating Holiday must be used in the calendar year that it is earned.
  • Once the floating holiday has been approved, the approval may not be rescinded except in writing by the agency head, Executive Director of a Hospital or Chief of Personnel in the Police Department.

 Line Of Duty Assault 

  • Whenever the head of an agency determines a member is assaulted during the course of his/her duties, the member is eligible to receive his or her salary up to 18 months provided that the city’s medical practitioner determines the member is incapable of carrying out his or her duties.


  • Members are entitled to four days for the death of their spouse, domestic partner, natural, foster or step-parent; child; brother or sister; father-in-law; mother-in-law or other relative residing in the household.


  • There are two types of overtime; voluntary and involuntary
  • With voluntary overtime, members are compensated in time.
  • If the supervisor comes to you and says John, do you want to work overtime this evening; that is voluntary overtime.
  • If the supervisor comes to you and says you have to work overtime today and it is not in writing; that is voluntary overtime. To be paid cash, the directive has to be in writing
  • With involuntary or mandatory overtime, members must be given the orders in writing.
  • With involuntary overtime, the members have the option to request cash or take time.

How To Complete A Grievance Form

Step One

  • Submit the original Step I grievance form to the location head or program director.
  • Send a copy to the Union and keep a personal copy.
  • After three (3) business days, file to Step II, if unsatisfactory or no response received from the site director. All responses MUST be in writing

Step Two

  • Send the original Step II grievance form to the Director of Labor Relations at the agency.
  • Attach a copy of the Step I grievance and any written response received to the Step ll appeal.
  • Send a copy to the Union and keep a personal copy.
  • After ten (10) business days the grievant may file to Step III if there has been unsatisfactory
    response or no response from Step I.

Step Three

  • Send the original Step Ill appeal to the Chief Review Officer, NYC Office of Labor Relations, 40 Rector Street, 4th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10006.
  • Attach a copy of the Step l grievance, and any response; along with with a copy of the Step ll appeal, and any response to the Step lll appeal.
  • Send a copy to the Union and keep a personal copy.
  • Office of Labor Relations (OLR) has fifteen (15) working days to respond in writing to the appeal.
  • **NYCHA Step lll are submitted to General Counsel 250 Broadway, 12th Floor, New York, N.Y.10007
  • An appeal from Step lll may be brought only by the Union to arbitration within fifteen (15) working days from the Step lll determination.


  • Arbitration is a process in which a dispute is resolved by an impartial adjudicator.
  • The arbitrator is selected by the two parties in dispute.
  • The Arbitrator’s decision is final and binding.
  • There are limited rights of review and appeal of arbitration awards.
  • Note: If a member receives a grievance decision or arbitration award that is not implemented within a 30-day period, the member should call the grievance section to get the decision/award enforced.

Grievance Representatives 

  • The Grievance and Legal Services Section: Enforces the contracts by invoking the members’ contractual rights. Files appropriate grievances up to arbitration if necessary. Represents members at investigative interviews, disciplinary hearings, and arbitration

Health And Safety

  • Citywide Contract – Article XIV section 2 (a) Adequate, clean, structurally safe and sanitary working facilities shall be provided for all employees.

Common Health & Safety problems:

  • Excessive heat or lack of heat
  • Nonfunctional air conditioning,
  • No hot water
  • Malfunctioning Elevators
  • Rodents
  • Dirty carpets & floors

To resolve a health and safety issue:

  • Notify the site director or office manager
  • Call the Health & Safety Department. If no solution is reached, the issue will be brought before the Health and Safety Committee.
  • If issues are not resolved Step lll grievance (Union grievance) may be filed


All Health & Safety grievances are to be filed at Step III.

  • Send the completed grievance(s) as well as the complaint about the New York State Department of Labor to the Health & Safety Department at the Union Office or Fax a copy to (212) 533-1473 or (212) 505-2584. We will check them for completeness and accuracy. We will then file the complaint with the New York State Department of Labor as well as the grievance at Step III. It is imperative that all Health & Safety problems, throughout the location, be a part of the grievance. If there are members in different programs in the same agency in a particular building, a grievance covering all floors and all members should be filed.
  • At the top of the grievance form fill in the number of SSEU 371 members in the building in
    your agency, your department name, (use the agency name HRA, HPD, ACS, etc. not the
    program or division name,) and the location address. List all the floors included on the (3rd)
    line. Do not fill in other lines in the box such as your address and telephone. Fill in name of
    the agency in section starting, Rules & Regulation, etc. Use; HRA, HPD, ACS, NYCHA not
    your program such as FIA, BEV. The grievant should not have their names or signatures on the front. The grievant should fill out all information and sign their names on the separate List of Grievants/Complainants. The first name listed will be the official grievant and the one notified of hearings. If you want to testify at hearings, list your name first.

Statement: Use short phrases when writing the Grievance. Never be too specific as the
agency will address only one little problem and ignore the rest. Use general words and phrases such as:

  • Not all sinks work
  • Many commodes don’t flush
  • Most emergency lights are nonfunctional

Finish The Grievance With The Following Statement: 

We request immediate remediation/correction of all cited grievances; or the redeployment of
all staff to a safe and healthy work location; or any other just and proper remedy.

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