Higher Education – I filed a Complaint: Now What?
Individuals who file complaints with our office are usually filing either an Unfair Labor Practice complaint or a Statutory Violation complaint.
There are other types of cases that can be filed before our Boards which involve matters of negotiation between higher level administration at the schools, universities, or State agencies and the unions. Those cases have different timelines and procedures than those described here. See the section of “Filing Complaints” for a particular Board for those requirements.
If you have filed a Unfair Labor Practice or Statutory Violation complaint with one of the State Labor Relations Boards, you may be wondering how long it will take to get a response or what communications you should expect. The process works as follows:
1. Our office receives your complaint.
The State Labor Relations Boards office is the administrative center for three separate Boards: the Public School Labor Relations Board, the Higher Education Labor Relations Board, and the State Labor Relations Board. You should have filed your complaint with the Board that pertains to your employment. At the time that you file, you should include any and all materials such as letters, emails, or other documents that are relevant to your case. You may be able to send more information later, but it slows down the process considerably each time more material is added.
2. Our office reviews your complaint.
One of our staff will read over your form to check for any obvious errors or missing information. If there is a problem we may contact you by phone or email and ask you to provide what is missing. Sometimes we know immediately that your complaint does not belong in our office – for instance, if you work for a private employer rather than a public sector employer that would be covered by one of the Boards. In that case, we will let you know that you are in the wrong place so that you can pursue your claim where it can be addressed.
If we find that your complaint is complete and could be under the jurisdiction of the Board where you have filed, we give your complaint a case number and continue processing.
3. Our office requests a response from the person or group you are filing against (the charged party.)
We have a standard letter that goes to the employer or union that you are filing against. We will send the letter to the person and address that you provide in your complaint. You will receive a copy of that letter. Usually the charged party will have a lawyer that represents that group, and further communication will come from the attorney’s office.
There is a deadline set for the charged party to respond to the claim; that date will be in our letter. The letter will also direct the charged party to send you, the petitioner, a copy of that response so that you will know when the response was made and what it says. After you receive that response, you may request the opportunity to reply to it if there are specific things that were not addressed in your original materials.
4. Review of all materials from you and the charged party.
For cases filed before the Higher Education Labor Relations Board and the State Labor Relations Board the Executive Director of the Maryland State Labor Relations Boards will review the case and make a recommendation to the appropriate Board. During the review more investigation may be necessary, and the Director will consult with the Assistant Attorney General for legal counsel. You and the Board members will receive a copy of this recommendation. If you are satisfied with the decision as recommended, you do not have to do anything further, and a full Board decision will ultimately be issued. If you are not satisfied with the Director’s recommendation, you can file a Request for Reconsideration with the full Board (within fifteen days of receiving the Executive Director’s recommendation), and your case will go to Step 5.
For cases filed before the Public School Labor Relations Board all cases go immediately to consideration by the full Board.
5. Consideration and decision by the full Board.
This is the part of the process that can vary in time the most. Some cases are more complicated than others and need more research or consultation with our Assistant Attorney General’s office. Also, while the Board members are very conscientious about their duties, they do serve as volunteers while maintaining full time responsibilities elsewhere. As the members and counsel review your case, they may have questions or request more information from you. This part of the process can take from a few weeks to a few months. As long as you have received the request response letter from us and a response from the other party, you can be confident that the Board is looking into the matter.
Once the Board has fully considered your case, they will issue a decision. It will be sent to you and the charged party. There may be a note at the end of the decision telling you that you have the right to appeal. Appeals are taken in court, not by the Boards. (See the link on the left about filing appeals.)