Grievance Procedure

All programs must establish a grievance procedure for members who believe that they have been unfairly released from the program and for other grievances filed by members or other interested parties. This grievance procedure should be attached to the AmeriCorps member's service agreement. The procedure must include an opportunity for a hearing and binding arbitration within statutory deadlines.

To ensure all AmeriCorps programs are in compliance with federal regulations regarding grievance procedures, member files will be reviewed during monitoring site visits to ensure members have signed a grievance policy. Grievance procedures will be submitted at the beginning of the program's three-year grant cycle, and will be reviewed for quality and compliance using the Grievance Procedure Review Checklist. Programs will be notified in writing of any required changes and given an appropriate time frame to complete those revisions.

Additionally, the Commission encourages programs to establish an alternative dispute resolution procedure, such as mediation. While a member is going through the grievance procedure, be sure to make it very clear what stage they are in, what the time-line is, and what the next steps are (i.e. whether they are in a mediation, grievance hearing or binding arbitration).

The following exhibit illustrates the timeframe that must be addressed in an AmeriCorps grievance procedure. Not every requirement is shown, but all major milestones are noted.

Grievance procedures are part of the member contract.

Members are required to read and sign a copy of the grievance procedures.

Commission ensures that grievance procedures address each of the following required components:

  • Grievance filed within one year of alleged occurrence.
  • Grievance hearing within 30 calendar days of filing a grievance.
  • Decision made within 60 calendar days of filing a grievance.
  • Hearing by person not involved in previous decisions on the issue.
  • Grievant can request binding arbitration if decision is adverse to grievant or if decision is not reached within 60 calendar days.
  • Binding arbitration hearing is held within 45 days after request for arbitration or within 30 days after CEO appoints arbitrator.
  • There is a decision within 30 days of the binding arbitration hearing.
  • Remedies include the applicant's selection or reinstatement and other changes in the terms and conditions of service.

Commission maintains records of its review of subgrantees' grievance procedures.

Commission holds subgrantees accountable for making any needed revisions in their grievance procedure.

In formatting your own grievance procedure, a sample can be found in the CNCS Program Director's Handbook. In addition, please see the AmeriCorps Provisions to make sure your grievance procedure follows appropriate guidelines.

NOTE:  Programs are required to contact the Commission if a member starts a grievance procedure process. The written grievance should be sent to the Commission and any correspondence with the member should also be included.

Grievance Procedure Review Checklist

The following items are mandatory for program staff to have as part of their program:

  • Grievance procedures are part of the member service agreement.
  • Members are required to read and sign a copy of the grievance procedures.
  • Commission ensures that grievance procedures address each of the following required components:
    • Grievance filed within one year of alleged occurrence.
    • Grievance hearing held within 30 calendar days of filing a grievance.
    • Decision made within 60 calendar days of filing a grievance.
    • Hearing conducted by a person not involved in previous decisions on the issue.
    • Grievant can request binding arbitration if decision is adverse to grievant or if decision is not reached within 60 calendar days.
    • Binding arbitration hearing is held within 45 days after request for arbitration or within 30 days after CEO appoints arbitrator.
    •  Within 30 days of the binding arbitration hearing, there is a decision.
  • Commission maintains records of its review of sub grantees' grievance procedures.
  • Commission holds sub grantees accountable for making any needed revisions in their grievance procedure.
  • Other

Link to the Grievenace Procedure Review Checklist (pdf) form or by contacting AmeriCorp at 800-592-9896.

Drug Free Work Place

In accordance with the AmeriCorps Provisions, programs are required to give notice about the Drug-Free Workplace Act to members and to conduct a drug-free awareness program.

If a member is arrested for or convicted of a drug offense, he or she must notify the Program Director in writing within five (5) days. Appropriate action must be taken including suspension and referral to a drug rehabilitation program, or release for cause consistent with the Corporation's rule on termination and suspension of service.

The conviction must be reported to the Commission, in writing, within ten (10) days. The Commission will then notify the Corporation in writing.

Wage Garnishment

The Corporation has concluded that the federal portion of the living allowance is not subject to involuntary garnishment because it is protected under the doctrine of sovereign immunity. The term, "sovereign immunity", means that the United States, as the sovereign, has to consent before any federal funds can be garnished. It has not done so in the case of the federal portion of a member's living allowance. In addition, the federal portion of programs' staff salaries may not be subject to involuntary garnishment.

The non-federal portion/program match of living allowances and staff salaries may be garnished, in accordance with state law.

Timesheets

The Serve Illinois Commission will conduct random reviews of member timesheets. If problems are found during the initial review such as inconsistent calculations, unauthorized timesheets, prohibited activities, etc., it will be considered a compliance issue and may require a complete review of all member timesheets.

The review of timesheets will include the following:

Do all timesheets include:

  • Is there a submission document that has the member's original signature on it?
  • Is there a secure connection for the member to submit timesheets?
  • Are the guidelines for submitting timesheets noted on the sheet?
  • Are member service activities listed on timesheets in line with the approved objectives and are not prohibited activities?
  • Are members on target to attain their intended number of service hours?
  • Do the timesheets clearly track the service activities to ensure adherence to the 20% rule relating to training?
  • Do the timesheets clearly track the service activities to ensure adherence to the 10% rule relating to fundraising?
  • Are timesheets current in OnCorps?

* See Chapter 8 - Attachments: 22. Sample Timesheet (pdf)