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Report from the Board: LLLI Grievance Procedure for Leaders

Nan Jolly
LLLI Board of Directors Chair
Grievance Procedure Committee
From: LEAVEN, Vol. 36 No. 2, April-May 2000, p. 18.

When a Leader has a complaint within La Leche League, she takes that issue to her support person and they work together to achieve resolution. Sometimes, others in the chain of communication will need to be called upon to assist in this process. In most instances, the issue is resolved at one of these levels. Occasionally, however, the Leader is not satisfied or still feels aggrieved after the administrative alternatives have been exhausted. Until now, there has been no avenue to further pursue resolution.

LLLI recognizes that unresolved grievances can reduce a Leader's enthusiasm to carry out her Leader work and reduce her ability to help mothers breastfeed. There are even instances where Leaders have retired after an unsatisfactory grievance resolution. Unresolved grievances take precious time and energy - energy that is more appropriately directed toward our organizational purpose of helping mothers breastfeed. While these situations may be few in number, the disruption which may come to all involved caused LLLI to recognize that a formal method of dealing with grievances was needed.

In July 1999 the LLLI Board of Directors instituted a Grievance Procedure for Leaders and a Grievance Commission (GC) was appointed at the March 2000 Board meeting. The Grievance Commission is headed by a Coordinator who then appoints members from a pool approved by the LLLI Board of Directors. Members of the commission reflect the diversity of La Leche League and include Leaders with a wide variety of expertise. This body will review grievances from Leaders that have not been resolved by the usual administrative support structure and will seek a resolution that is satisfactory to all concerned.

Who may file a grievance?

Any Leader in any Division or Affiliate may file a grievance. Some Affiliates have a grievance or other procedure to address Leader's issues within that Affiliate. Leader Applicants have an appeal procedure available within the Leader Accreditation Process.

When may she file a grievance?

Grievances may be filed within a year of the last attempt to resolve the issue through the usual and appropriate channels of communication. The older a complaint gets, the harder it becomes to resolve.

What kind of issues will come to the Grievance Commission?

The GC will deal only with issues arising from implementation of LLLI policy. This will not be the appropriate place to bring personal differences or conflicts arising from issues outside LLL work. Disagreement with policies established by the LLLI Board of Directors should be addressed directly with the Board; those issues are not grounds for a grievance.

How should a grievance be submitted?

Grievances should be submitted in writing to the Coordinator of the Grievance Commission. Please indicate explicitly on the envelope and in the header of the letter that a grievance is enclosed. This will minimize delays and avoid confusion.

What will happen next?

The Coordinator will review the grievance to assure that all appropriate resources in the communication chain have been used. In some instances, she may be able to facilitate access by the Leader with the grievance to additional useful resources within the administrative structure.

After receiving the grievance, the Coordinator will notify all parties involved and designate a facilitator to work on this particular grievance. Specific members of the GC will be identified as available to work on this grievance. All parties involved in the grievance will have the opportunity to indicate any GC member with whom they are unwilling to work.

Once the group working on this particular grievance is designated, they will consult and collaborate with Leaders, staff, administrators and the LLLI Board as appropriate to give a fair hearing to all concerned and attempt to facilitate the resolution. The facilitator may request access to relevant files and will make them available to all parties as needed, respecting the confidentiality of those not directly involved in the grievance.

For economic reasons, we hope most of this work can be done through mail - electronically wherever possible. There may be instances where personal meetings are desirable if agreement can be reached about sharing the expense. If, after two years, it appears that resolution cannot be reached, or when organizational resources are unavailable to pursue the issue any further, the GC may decide to terminate the proceedings.

The Commission will report regularly, and may suggest action, to the LLLI Board of Directors. Since this is the first time this procedure will be implemented, we cannot be certain exactly how this will work in practice. Details may change as we gain experience and face some of the practicalities involved.

The LLLI Grievance Procedure policy is set forth in Appendix 40 of the LLLI Policies and Standing Rules Notebook which has been widely distributed throughout our administrative structure. A copy of the Grievance Procedure should be available from your support person, by request from any LLLI Board member, or on the LLLI Web site, (requires Leader password).

Grievance Commission Coordinator

At their Annual Meeting in March 2000, the LLLI Board of Directors appointed a Grievance Commission Coordinator, who will be ready to receive grievances after June 1, 2000. She is Trudy Hartt. Her address is 302 Acadia Drive, Beaconsfield, Quebec, H9W 2K2 Canada. Tel: 514.695.8617 Fax: 514.695.1979 email: tch9 at

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