Preparing a Federal Employee Administrative Grievance

By John V. Berry, Esq.,

Our law firm represents federal employees in federal employee grievance procedures. Most, if not all federal agencies have their own federal employee grievance procedures. Most of these procedures are similar but each agency may have their own twists that an employee should be aware of.

Sample Step 1 GrievanceWhen Federal Employees Generally Use the Grievance Process

Generally, federal employees turn to a federal agency’s grievance process when they: (1) don’t have an issue that might qualify to go to other forums, like the Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaint process or the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), or (2) are attempting to resolve an employment matter more informally.  The goal in filing a grievance is to resolve an employment dispute through compromise.  The more that an employee is willing to consider compromise in filing a grievance, the more likely it is that the grievance will be resolved.

Types of Grievances

There are usually two types of federal employee grievances: (1) union grievances, and (2) administrative grievances. Typically, federal employees that are eligible to be part of a union will proceed through the union grievance process (sometimes with, and sometimes without the assistance of the union) and those that are not eligible, usually supervisors, will proceed through the administrative grievance process.

Grievances are filed by federal employees usually as disputes over some employment issue affecting the employee. Sometimes, a grievance can involve a disciplinary action, performance action, re-assignment, transfer or other employment issue. There are numerous types of grounds for a potential grievance in the federal workplace.  However, before filing a particular type of grievance, it is important to consult with an attorney and have a copy of the grievance process which applies to the particular federal employee.

Preparing the Grievance

Depending on the applicable grievance policy or collective bargaining agreement, the first step in the grievance process is to notify the appropriate supervisor that you have a grievance. Many grievance policies require that a federal employee notify a supervisor verbally of the grievance prior to filing a written grievance. Other policies require that a written grievance be filed first.  The format required, while it may differ between agencies, does not affect the general result of the grievance process. 2016 Sample Grievance.

The Grievance Steps

Depending on the federal agency involved, a grievance will normally include 2-4 steps in the grievance procedure. At each step, the federal employee and a grievance official will attempt to resolve the grievance.  Typically, the written grievance is followed with meeting to discuss or present the grievance in person.  When we represent federal employees in grievance matters we typically present the grievance for them and the federal employee also speaks in order to provide necessary background for the grievance. Usually, at the end of a grievance presentation the federal employee will present a compromise resolution proposal.  Following the grievance presentation, the employee will usually hear back informally about the proposed remedy, or will receive a written decision on the grievance itself.

Sometimes, the end result will require compromise by both parties in order to resolve a grievance. Some grievance steps will require the supervisor to meet with the employee first and then issue a ruling on the grievance.  Other steps only require a written decision at the first step. After each of the steps, the grievance will go generally go to a higher level supervisor as it progresses through the steps.

After the Grievance Process

If a grievance is not resolved at the end of the grievance process, many federal agency policies: (1) permit federal employees to request arbitration (usually just for union-based grievance procedures), (2) grant federal employees the right to request an administrative hearing on the grievance, or (3) provide additional rights for review. It is important to understand 
how the applicable grievance procedure works for a particular federal agency prior to filing a grievance.


When a federal employee is considering filing an administrative or union grievance it is important to have an attorney represent or advise you.  Our law firm represents federal employees in the different types of grievance processes. We can be contacted at or by telephone at (703) 668-0070. Our Facebook page is located at