Discrimination Complaint and Grievance Process

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For County Services, Programs, Activities, Facilities or Employment
Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and related ADA and Equal Employment Regulations

Introduction:

The following Title VI (and related statutes) ADA discrimination complaint procedures are intended to provide aggrieved persons an avenue to raise complaints of discrimination regarding St. Lucie County's programs, activities and services as required by statute.

Purpose:

The purpose of the discrimination complaint procedures is to describe the process used by the St. Lucie County Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination. This procedure shall also apply to complaints of discrimination in employment. However, employment discrimination grievances are processed by the County Department of Human Resources. These procedures cover all complaints filed under Title VI the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, Executive Order 12898 Environmental Justice, Executive Order 13166 Limited English Proficiency and applicable Department policies. Any person who feels that he or she has been subjected to discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, gender, age, disability, or because they are low income, has the right to file a complaint with the County's Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination.

GRIEVANCE PROCEDURE:

Any individual who feels that they have been discriminated against in the provision of a program or service operated by St. Lucie County shall have the ability to file a formal grievance, have the grievance responded to, and have the right to request an appeal if he or she is dissatisfied with the resolution of their grievance. These grievance filing procedures shall be made available and accessible to the general public at the St. Lucie County on-line website; http://www.stlucieco.gov/. The County Risk Manager is designated as the Primary Contact Person for Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination and is located at 2300 Virginia Avenue, Ft. Pierce, FL 34982. County Risk Management shall function as the Office of ADA Coordination and is responsible for coordinating the County's ADA grievance procedure and will serve as the conduit between the grievant and the department against whom the grievance is made. Risk Management will provide the department with the necessary technical assistance needed in reaching resolution of the grievance. Risk Management will make all attempts to assist the department in reaching an amicable resolution to the grievance; however, Risk Management, while acting as Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordinator, shall have no authority to direct the department in the manner in which the department ultimately decides to respond to the grievance.

In addition to the Risk Manager being the Primary Title VI ADA Contact Person, each county department having an effect on the admission, access, or operations of any county programs, services, activities or facilities shall designate a Department ADA Contact person.

Employment discrimination grievances should be sent to the Department of Human Resources, 2300 Virginia Avenue, Ft. Pierce, FL 34982.

Title VI Complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged discriminatory event or practice. Complaints must be filed in person or in writing. These procedures do not deny or limit the right of a complainant to file a formal complaint with an outside enforcement agency (EEOC, U.S. Dept. of Transportation, FHWA, FTA, or U.S Dept. of Justice) or to seek private counsel for complaints alleging discrimination. Every effort will be made to obtain early resolution of complaints at the lowest possible level.

Any individual who feels he or she has been discriminated against in the admission, access, or operations of any of the programs, services, activities or facilities provided by St. Lucie County, under provisions of the ADA, may submit his or her written grievance to either the affected department ADA Contact or to Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination / Risk Management.

Grievances should be documented on the attached form and shall contain the following information:

  1. Name, address and telephone number (if available) of the grievant.
  2. The date of the occurrence.
  3. The name and location of the County program and service involved in the alleged occurrence.
  4. The name (if known) of the County employee with whom the grievant came in contact, if appropriate.
  5. Why the individual thinks that he or she has been discriminated against on the basis of a disability.

Within five (5) business days of receipt of the grievance, the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination shall:

  1. Inform the department of the grievance; transmit a copy of the grievance to the department with general instructions as to the format which the department should follow in their response, and a date by which the department shall return a response to the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination. The Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination will review the decisions with the department before final preparation of the response.
  2. The department shall then have thirty (30) business days from receipt of grievance from the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination to respond to the complainant. Attempts will be made by the department to clarify the facts of the grievance. The actions taken by the department shall be conveyed to the grievant in writing. This letter, addressed to the grievant and signed by the Department, shall be transmitted to the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination within the specified time period. The response shall be mailed to the grievant by the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination with a cover letter informing the grievant of his or her ability to appeal the decision enclosed and the procedure which the grievant must follow in requesting an appeal. In no instance shall the Department mail their response directly to the grievant.
  3. In the event that a complainant submits a written grievance to the operating department, the department shall send a copy of the grievance to the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination within five (5) business days. That action will constitute a filing by the complainant with the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination as required in Section IV of this document. The Department will have thirty (30) business days from receipt of written grievance to respond to complainant.
  4. Where a department can solve a written grievance informally, the department will provide the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination a written statement explaining the mutually agreeable solution. It should be signed by the complainant and the department representative.

 

All reasonable attempts should be made by the department, with the assistance of the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination, to mediate and resolve the grievance. Any individual who is dissatisfied with the recommended resolution of their grievance may request an appeal. In requesting an appeal the individual shall, within fifteen (15) business days from the date of the written recommended resolution offered by the County, submit in writing to the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination their request to appeal the decision and express his or her willingness to appear before an impartial panel to present his or her grievance.

Upon receipt of a written request for an appeal, the Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination shall:

  1. Notify the County Administrator and request that within thirty (30) business days a panel of three (3) senior members of unaffected County departments be appointed to hear the grievance. The Administrator shall designate one of the panel members to serve as chairperson.
  2. Set a time and place for the hearing that is convenient to the grievant, the affected department and the panel members, within twenty (20) business days after the panel is appointed, if possible.
  3. Instruct the department, against whom the grievance has been made, to prepare a package with all necessary information pertinent to the grievance for each panel member to review prior to hearing.
  4. Monitor and make a record of the hearing.

At the time of the hearing both the grievant and the affected department shall have the opportunity to present their positions to the panel. The panel members will also have the opportunity to pose questions to both parties. After the affected parties have presented the facts and questions posed by the panel have been answered, the hearing will be closed.

Within fourteen (14) business days from the date of the hearing the panel shall issue its decision. The Chairperson shall prepare the decision of the panel. The Chairperson shall send the written decision to each panel member for review and signature prior to its submission to the affected parties. The decision of the panel is final and no further appeal shall be available within the administrative branch of County government.

The Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination shall maintain files on grievances received along with all communications, recommendations, and other records pertinent to those grievances as required by law.

The establishment of this grievance procedure shall not preclude nor waive the grievant's right to seek redress under any alternative remedy available at any time during the grievance process.

PRIMARY Title VI CONTACT:
Office of Equal Opportunity and ADA Coordination
Name: St. Lucie County Employee Safety and Risk Manager
Address: 2300 Virginia Avenue, Fort Pierce, FL 34982
Email:  wishardm@stlucieco.org
Phone: 772-462- 1783
Hearing Impaired: TDDL 772-462- 1428