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Grievance Awareness

A grievance can be defined as a specific complaint about your wages, hours, or conditions of work. TSTA has as a goal to empower its members to pursue their own grievances under the applicable school district policy. Although virtually any aspect of employment may be technically grievable, only certain grievances are legally reviewable by the Commissioner of Education.

According to the Texas Education Code §7.057, the only grievances which may be appealed to the Commissioner of Education are ones involving a breach of the employment contract coupled with economic harm, or a violation of a state school law or regulation by the school district. In these circumstances, a grievance may warrant the advice or assistance of TSTA Member Advocacy Specialists in the Help Center, who in turn may seek the advice and assistance of TSTA legal staff. TSTA legal staff appeals scores of cases every year to the Commissioner of Education.

Deciding appeal ability

  • Is it a violation of the written employment contract? If so, does it cause economic harm?
  • Is it a violation of state school law regulation?

Why a grievance procedure?

  • To provide a safe, acceptable, and systematic way to settle problems.
  • To provide a method for interpreting the agreement or board policies.
  • To provide members with the opportunity to tell their side of the story.
  • To help maintain and establish member rights.
  • To provide a procedure by which the local association can serve as a responsible advocate in support of the member.
  • To provide management with a channel for member complaints.

Member rights

U.S. Constitution*

  • First Amendment: Freedom of worship, speech, association, political choice.
  • Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments: A citizen will not be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process. (Due process is not an absolute right.)

Federal Law*

  • Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments—prevents discrimination on the basis of sex.
  • Title VII—prevents discrimination because of race, color, religion, sex or national origin.
  • P.L. 95-555—broadens the definition of "sex" in Title VII to cover pregnancy related illnesses.
  • Equal Pay Act—equal pay for equal work.
  • ADEA—prohibits discrimination based on handicap.

Texas Constitution*

  • Article 1, Section 19—due course of law for those to be "in any manner" disenfranchized.
  • Article 1, Section 27—citizens rights to redress grievances.

Texas Education Code*

  • 21.103—the right to written notice of termination of probationary contract not later than the 45th day before the last day of instruction required in the contract (continuing contract)
  • 554.002—prohibits retaliation against employees who report illegal activities of district
  • 617.004—protects the right of employees to belong to a labor organization
  • 617.005—right of public employees to present grievances concerning wages, hours, and conditions of employment individually or through a representative
  • 21.158—the right to notice prior to discharge during the school year (continuing contract)
  • 21.159—the right to a hearing, before board action, on dismissal (continuing contract)
  • 21.206—the right to written notice of proposed nonrenewal not later than the 45th day before the last day of instruction required in the contract (term contract)
  • 21.207—the right to a hearing, before board action, on nonrenewal (term contract)
  • 21.209—the right to appeal a nonrenewal decision to the State Commissioner of Education (term contract)
  • 21.351—the right to appeal a termination decision to the State Commissioner of Education (continuing contract)
  • 21.352—the right to copies of evaluation: to a second appraiser
  • 21.403—the right to at least the state minimum salary (which is based on years of service)
  • 21.404—the right to 450 minutes of planning and preparation time during a two- week period
  • 21.405—the right to a 30-minute duty-free lunch
  • 21.408—the right to join any association of your choice
  • 21.409—the right to leave of absence for temporary disability
  • 22.001—provides continuous payroll deduction for association dues
  • 22.003—provides 5 days per year of personal leave to every school district employee (additional days provided if assaulted during duty time)
  • 22.004—each district must make available to its employees group health insurance
  • 25.083—the right to uninterrupted time to instruct students
  • 37.002—the right to remove a student from class in order to maintain effective disc

Texas Government Code

552.102—gives members the right to see their personnel files and get copies of them

Texas Labor Code

21.051—prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, disability, religion, sex, national origin or age

*Not a state school law or regulation for purposes of appealing to the Commissioner of Education.


A final note

This is a general guide for TSTA members and is not intended to provide complete information or legal advice on specific problems. If you are having a problem, you should contact the TSTA Help Center (877-ASK-TSTA) immediately.