Petition for Writ of Certiorari to Review Quasi-Judicial Action: Agencies, Boards, and Commissions of Local Government: EMPLOYMENT – Grievance Procedures – Petitioner denied due process when Pinellas County Director of Human Resources incorrectly concluded that Petitioner's written grievance was untimely filed.  Court held that in part interpretation and application of personnel rules by Director not within the range of permissible interpretations; therefore, not entitled to judicial deference.  Petition granted in part, denied in part.  Johnson v. Pinellas County, Florida, No. 09-000057AP-88B (Fla. 6th Cir. App. Ct. June 22, 2010).

 

NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO FILE REHEARING MOTION AND, IF FILED, DETERMINED.

 

IN THE CIRCUIT COURT FOR THE SIXTH JUDICIAL CIRCUIT

IN AND FOR PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA

APPELLATE DIVISION

 

 

BARBARA JOHNSON,

                        Petitioner,

                                                                                    Appeal No. 09-000057AP-88A

                                                                                    UCN522009AP000057XXXXCV

v.

 

 

PINELLAS COUNTY, FLORIDA,

                        Respondent.

______________________________________/

 

Opinion Filed  ______________

 

Petition for Writ of Certiorari from

decision of Pinellas County

Informal Grievance Panel, Unified

Personnel System.

 

Ryan D. Barack, Esq.

Michelle Erin Nadeau, Esq.

Attorneys for Petitioner

 

Carole Sanzeri, Esq.

Sarah Richardson, Esq.

Attorneys for Respondent

 

 

PER CURIAM.

            Barbara Johnson seeks certiorari review of the decision of the Director of Human Resources for Pinellas County on behalf of the Pinellas County Unified Personnel System which held that the Informal Grievance Panel did not have jurisdiction to consider her written grievance against the County's Health and Human Services Department.  Upon review of the petition, response, reply, and the appendices, this Court dispensed with oral argument pursuant to Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.320.  For the reasons explained below, we conclude that Ms. Johnson is entitled to some relief.

Statement of Case and Facts

            In 2008, Ms. Johnson was employed as a supervisor in the Pinellas County Health and Human Services Department.  Due to budget cuts the Department was reorganized and her employment position was eliminated.  (Pet. App. Ex. B).[1]  In effect, Ms. Johnson was demoted from her position as a supervisor to the position of "Case Manager I."  On July 29, 2008, Ms. Johnson filed a grievance claim that was considered by an informal grievance panel.  (Pet. App. Ex. A).  On March 2, 2009, a settlement agreement was reached to resolve all disputes between Ms. Johnson and Pinellas County concerning the 2008 demotion.  (Pet. App. Ex. C).  Under the terms of the settlement agreement Ms. Johnson was transferred into the position of Team Leader and she agreed to a six-month probationary term.  The change in status was effective April 1, 2009.  (Res. App. E).

            On June 8, 2009, Ms. Johnson was informed by the Director of Pinellas County Health and Human Services Department that due to new workforce reductions her employment position had been affected and she had been "bumped" to a different position in the Department.  She was informed that her new position would be "Case Manager 2."  (Pet. App. Ex. D).  Thereafter, on September 23, 2009, Ms. Johnson received an unfavorable performance review and the change in her position was effective October 1, 2009.  (Pet. App. Ex. E; Res. App. A).

            In her petition, Ms. Johnson states that on October 14, 2009, she brought an oral grievance to the attention of her supervisor, Deborah A. Godfrey, Director of Workforce Development.  In her sworn statement Ms. Johnson indicates that at this meeting Supervisor Godfrey did not "substantively respond to the oral grievance nor did she state that the grievance was denied."  (Pet. App. Ex. F).  When she did not receive a response, Ms. Johnson considered the grievance denied on October 28, 2009, ten working days after she alleges she presented her oral grievance.  It was her understanding that she had an additional ten working days to file a written grievance.  Her written grievance was filed on November 4, 2009, five working days after October 28, 2009.  (Pet. App. Ex. F; Res. App. D). 

            Deborah Godfrey was Ms. Johnson's immediate supervisor in 2009.  In her affidavit she states that on October 7, 2009, she received a voicemail from Ms. Johnson on her office voicemail system.  (Res. App. B).  Supervisor Godfrey sets out verbatim the content of the voicemail:

            Good morning Ms. G.  This is Barbara Johnson.  How are you this morning?  I need I need to file an oral grievance.  I guess it’s my performance review and today would be the deadline so I need to do that and I don't know if it’s the review or what I am doing, but I need to do something.  I would appreciate it.  I've told Cliff already and so I just need to let you know as well that this is my oral grievance that, you know, I am filing.  Thank you very much and have a great day.  Barbara Johnson.  Bye-bye.

 

(Res. App. B).  Ms. Johnson does not mention this telephone call in her petition.  However, in her reply to the County's response Ms. Johnson does not contest that she left this voicemail message on October 7, 2009, or dispute the content of the message as stated by Supervisor Godfrey.  Instead, she merely comments that when the first step of a grievance process is an oral communication, "comes the possibility that there may be a disagreement over when the oral grievance and subsequent response occurred."  (Reply, p. 4)

            Supervisor Godfrey in the affidavit indicates that after receiving the October 7, 2009, voicemail detailed above, she scheduled a meeting with Ms. Johnson on October 14, 2009, "to hear her out."  (Res. App. C).  At that meeting Supervisor Godfrey explained that after receiving the October 7, 2009, voicemail, Supervisor Godfrey spoke with her immediate supervisor and had been informed that she must respond to Ms. Johnson's grievance within ten days.  Supervisor Godfrey told Ms. Johnson that the October 14, 2009, meeting had been arranged in compliance with that requirement. 

            Supervisor Godfrey further states in the affidavit that at the October 14, 2009, meeting, Ms. Johnson indicated that she did not feel she was treated fairly "through the whole process. . . the whole thing, everything."  Supervisor Godfrey reminded Ms. Johnson that the purpose of the meeting was to talk about her 2009 evaluation, but Ms. Johnson refused to discuss the evaluation.  Ms. Johnson was asked if she would put in writing that she refused to discuss the evaluation.  In response Ms. Johnson allegedly stated she would put the refusal in writing, but "stated that she would just move onto the next step in the process—that she had ten (10) days to submit a 'written grievance' and that she would just put it all in there." (Res. App. C).  Supervisor Godfrey's written statement does not state that she informed Ms. Johnson that her grievance was denied or that any "answer" to her grievance was given.  (Res. App. C).    

            In a letter dated November 13, 2009, the Director of Human Resources for Pinellas County, Peggy Rowe stated that the grievance form had been reviewed.  (Pet. App. H).  Director Rowe surmised that Ms. Johnson's grievance related to four issues: (1) Ms. Johnson's prior demotion in July 2008; (2) an alleged violation of the March 2, 2009, settlement agreement concerning the 2008 demotion; (3) Ms. Johnson's most recent performance review and demotion; and (4) Ms. Johnson's dissatisfaction with her prior supervisor. 

            Director Rowe stated that issues one and two were not properly the subject of an informal grievance process.  Further, the letter informed Ms. Johnson that the written grievance complaint about the recent performance review was untimely.  The letter noted that Ms. Johnson's immediate supervisor responded to her complaint orally on October 14, 2009, as contemplated in Pinellas County Personnel Rule XX, and Ms. Johnson was required to file her written grievance within ten working days from that meeting.  Director Rowe also noted in the letter that as a permanent employee serving a probationary period Ms. Johnson was precluded from "attempting to grieve" her demotion and the grievance panel had no jurisdiction to consider that complaint.  Ms. Johnson was advised that any complaint concerning harassment by her prior supervisor should be brought to the Office of Human Rights.  (Pet. App. H).

            In response, Ms. Johnson's counsel sent correspondence to Director Rowe requesting that Ms. Johnson be provided with the opportunity to pursue her grievance though the County's grievance system.  (Pet. App. I).  In correspondence dated December 8, 2009, Director Rowe declined to reconsider her position.  (Pet. App. J).  On December 10, 2009, Senior Assistant County Attorney Carole Sanzeri responded to Ms. Johnson's counsel's request for a hearing before the Unified Personnel Board relating to the November 13, 2009, correspondence from Director Rowe.  Counsel for the County stated that there was no provision for such a hearing before the Board.  (Pet. App. K).  The petition for writ of certiorari was filed with this Court on December 14, 2009.

Standard of Review

            This Court in its appellate capacity has jurisdiction to review this matter under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.100.  We must decide (1) whether procedural due process was accorded; (2) whether the essential requirements of the law were observed; and (3) whether there was competent, substantial evidence to support the administrative findings.  See Falk v. Scott, 19 So. 3d 1103, 1104 (Fla. 2d DCA 2009).

Analysis

            The version of Pinellas County Personnel Rule XX that was in effect when Ms. Johnson filed her complaint stated in pertinent part as follows:

            A.  Procedure

            The aggrieved employee shall have the right to first personally bring a grievance, orally within ten (10) working days of when the employee first becomes aware of the aggrieved situation, to the attention of the immediate responsible supervisor.

 

            The supervisor may consult with superiors and shall respond to the oral grievance within ten (10) working days from the date the grievance was received and attempt to resolve the matter in a manner which is satisfactory to the employee and which is consistent with the Personnel Rules or other County policies that may be involved.  If the grievance is not adjusted to the satisfaction of the employee, or if the employee does not receive an answer within the ten (10) day limit, the employee shall have the right within ten (10) working days from the date of the previous time limit elapsed, to place the grievance in written form and submit it to the Department Head. . . .  The Department Head shall respond to the grievance in writing within ten (10) working days to the grievance.  If the grievance is not adjusted to the satisfaction of the grievant, the employee may contact the Director of Personnel, within ten (10) working days after receiving the response from the Department Head, and request an informal hearing before the grievance committee. . . .

(Pet. App. L).

 

            In the present case, competent, substantial evidence demonstrates that the informal, oral grievance was given by Ms. Johnson on October 7, 2009, when she left a message on Supervisor Godfrey's voicemail.  She specifically stated, "I've told Cliff already and so I just need to let you know as well that this is my oral grievance that, you know, I am filing."  (Res. App. B).  Supervisor Godfrey responded to Ms. Johnson's oral grievance by scheduling a meeting on October 14, 2009, within the ten-working-day time limit imposed by Personnel Rule XX. 

            Supervisor Godfrey states in her affidavit that at the October 14, 2009, meeting she attempted to resolve the issue raised by Ms. Johnson concerning her performance review, but Ms. Johnson allegedly refused to discuss the issue and indicate that "she would just move onto the next step in the process—that she had ten (10) days to submit a 'written grievance' and that she would just put it all in there." (Res. App. C).  In her sworn declaration Ms. Johnson states that at the October 14, 2009, meeting she presented her oral grievance.  She does not address the October 7, 2009, voicemail message, but states that on October 14, 2009, Supervisor Godfrey did not "substantively respond" to her oral grievance and did not state that the grievance was denied.  Therefore, it is Ms. Johnson's position that she waited the ten working days after the presentation of her oral grievance on October 14, 2009, to permit the County to respond; and upon receiving no response she had ten working days thereafter to file her written grievance.

Due Process

            As discussed above, Director Rowe stated in the November 13, 2009, correspondence that the Informal Grievance Panel had no jurisdiction to consider Ms. Johnson's complaints.  It was asserted that Ms. Johnson's written grievance concerning her performance review was untimely because it was filed more than ten working days after the October 14, 2009, meeting.  Additionally, Director Rowe concluded that complaints concerning the alleged violation of the March 2009 settlement agreement and concerning Ms. Johnson's 2008 demotion were not subject to the purview of Rule XX and those issues could not be pursued through the informal grievance process.  Further, the Director informed Ms. Johnson that any complaints of harassment in the workplace should be brought to the Office of Human Rights rather than to the Informal Grievance Panel.

            This Court's first task is to consider whether procedural due process was accorded.  See Falk, 19 So. 3d at 1104. 

            Ms. Johnson argues that the Director of Human Resources was without authority to interpret the personnel rules and make the decision to reject her written grievance.  She points to the requirements in Rule XX which states that within ten working days after the written grievance is filed the Department Head shall respond in writing.    

            There is no provision in Rule XX governing the procedures to be followed when an employee's written grievance is untimely filed.  The County asserts in the response to the petition that the rule's requirement for the Department Head to respond to the written grievance contemplates that the written grievance has been timely filed. 

            It is the task of the personnel department to interpret and apply the personnel rules.  Such interpretation and application must be done in a rational fashion and is entitled to judicial deference as long as it is within the range of possible permissible interpretations.  See Paloumbis v. City of Miami Beach, 840 So. 2d 297, 298-99 (Fla. 3d DCA 2003); see also Bd. of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund v. Levy, 656 So. 2d 1359, 1363 (Fla. 1st DCA 1995)("If an agency's interpretation of its governing statutes is one of several permissible interpretations, it must be upheld, despite the existence of reasonable alternatives.").  This Court concludes that this is a reasonable interpretation of Rule XX and that Ms. Johnson was not denied due process by being informed by the Director of Human Resources that her written grievance had been determined to be untimely.  See Beary v. Johnson, 872 So. 2d 943, 946 (Fla. 5th DCA 2004)("Generally, the violation of an internal administrative rule does not constitute a violation of due process. The right to due process is conferred not by legislative grace, but by constitutional guarantee.")

            The Court must next make a determination of whether the written grievance was in fact untimely filed:

Wed. Sept. 23, 2009

Ms. Johnson received an unfavorable annual performance review and was notified of her demotion effective October 1, 2009.  (Pet. App. E).  Personnel Rule XX states that the employee shall present the oral grievance within ten working days "of when the employee first becomes aware of the aggrieved situation."  Therefore, the ten-business-day time period commenced on the date of Ms. Johnson's performance review which included the announcement of her demotion.

Wed. Oct. 7, 2009

Ten working days later, Ms. Johnson made the oral grievance to her supervisor.  In the voicemail Ms. Johnson acknowledged that October 7, 2009, was the final day to lodge her oral grievance concerning her performance review.  (Res. App. B).

Wed. Oct. 14, 2009

Meeting between Supervisor Godfrey and Ms. Johnson. 

 

Both parties agree that the grievance was not resolved at this meeting.  Supervisor Godfrey stated in her affidavit that Ms. Johnson would not discuss the performance review so the matter could not be resolved.  (Res. App. C).  Supervisor Godfrey's written statement does not state that she informed Ms. Johnson that her grievance was denied or that any "answer" to her grievance was given.  (Res. App. C).

Wed. Oct. 21, 2009

Ten working days from the date of the oral grievance.

 

Wed. Oct. 28, 2009

Ten working days from the date of the meeting between Ms. Johnson and the supervisor. 

 

In her petition and reply Ms. Johnson does not discuss the October 7, 2009, voicemail, but argues that she first presented her oral grievance at the October 14, 2009, meeting.  She argues that because her supervisor did not respond to her oral grievance within ten working days after the meeting, in effect, the grievance was denied on this date.

 

In the November 13, 2009, correspondence Director Rowe stated that this date was the deadline for filing the written grievance.

Wed. Nov. 4, 2009

Ten working days from October 21, 2009.  Ms. Johnson's written grievance filed.  Ms. Johnson considered the written grievance to be timely filed as it was filed five working days after October 28, 2009, the date she considered the oral grievance to have been denied.

 

            The version of Personnel Rule XX in effect in 2009 stated: "If the grievance is not adjusted to the satisfaction of the employee, or if the employee does not receive an answer within the ten (10) day limit, the employee shall have the right within ten (10) working days from the date the previous time limit elapsed, to place the grievance in written form and submit it to the Department Head." (Emphasis added.)[2] 

            As noted above, the personnel department's interpretation and application of personnel rules must be done in a rational fashion and is entitled to judicial deference as long as it is within the range of possible permissible interpretations.  See Paloumbis, 840 So. 2d at 298-99; see also Levy, 656 So. 2d at 1363.

            In the November 13, 2009, correspondence Director Rowe and the Pinellas County Personnel Department interpreted section of Rule XX to mean once there has been an attempt to resolve the dispute within the ten working days after the employee makes his or her oral grievance, the time period for the employee to file the written grievance commences on the date of the supervisor's attempt to resolve the dispute, no matter what the outcome of that attempt may be.  [e.g. October 14, 2009, meeting to attempt to resolve the issue; therefore, the written grievance must be filed within ten working days, on or before October 28, 2009.]

            An alternative manner of interpreting this section of the rule is to follow its literal meaning: (1) If the supervisor attempts to resolve the dispute but is unsuccessful; or (2) if there is no answer by the supervisor, (3) the employee must file his or her written grievance within ten working days after the time period to resolve the dispute has elapsed. [e.g. October 7, 2009, oral grievance; ten working days after oral grievance is October 21, 2009; ten working days "from the date the previous time limit elapsed" (the time limit for resolving issue) is November 4, 2009.] 

            Both parties agreed that the October 14, 2009, meeting did not resolve the dispute between Ms. Johnson and the County.  Further, Supervisor Godfrey's written statement does not indicate that she informed Ms. Johnson that her grievance was denied or that any "answer" to her grievance was given.  (Res. App. C).  The attempt to resolve the dispute was unsuccessful and no "answer" to the oral grievance was given.  Therefore, under a literal interpretation of Rule XX, the time period to resolve the issue did not elapse until ten working days after October 7, 2009: October 21, 2009. 

            The Court holds that Director Rowe's interpretation of Rule XX is not within the range of permissible interpretations as it changes the requirements to be met by the employee.  See Paloumbis, 840 So. 2d at 298-99; see also Levy, 656 So. 2d at 1363.  We conclude that Ms. Johnson's written grievance concerning the performance agreement was timely filed ten working days after October 21, 2009: on November 4, 2009.  Accordingly, Ms. Johnson was not afforded due process and she should have been allowed to proceed with her written grievance.  The written grievance should have been considered by the Department Head.

Essential Requirements of Law

            The second task to be completed by the Court is to determine whether the essential requirements of the law were observed.  See Falk, 19 So. 3d at 1104.

            1.  Performance Review:  Director Rowe did not state that the Informal Grievance Panel could not consider Ms. Johnson's complaints concerning her performance review. There was merely a determination that the written grievance was untimely.  As this Court concludes that the written grievance was timely filed, the petition shall be granted as to the portion of the written grievance complaint concerning Ms. Johnson's performance review.

            2.  Violation of the March 2009 Settlement Agreement:  Director Rowe concluded that the grievance concerning the alleged violation of the March 2009 settlement agreement could not be pursued through the informal grievance process.

            When Ms. Johnson entered into the settlement agreement she dismissed with prejudice the grievance she had filed in 2008.  The terms of the settlement agreement provided that the parties maintained all rights, remedies, and causes of action if there was a breach of any provision of the Agreement.  (Pet. App. C). 

            Personnel Rule XX states that grievances shall be considered in the following employment areas:

            Any presumed violation of the Personnel Rules as adopted by the Unified Personnel Board;

 

            Any established departmental policy or procedure or a departmental rule approved by the Personnel Board; or

 

            Any matter relating to an employee's working condition; which an employee believes is unfair, unjust or inequitable.  However, a probationary employee may not appeal a dismissal or demotion nor may a permanent status employee serving a probationary period appeal a demotion.

(Pet. App. L).

 

            Ms. Johnson argues that the alleged violation of the settlement agreement is reviewable under the third category of grievances that can be considered by the Informal Grievance Panel.  Director Rowe concluded that the alleged breach of the settlement agreement did not fall under this category of grievance and in its response to the petition the County presents the same argument.

            The Court concludes that the Director and the County's determination that the alleged violation of the 2009 settlement agreement is not subject to the informal grievance process is within the range of possible permissible interpretations of Rule XX.  See Paloumbis, 840 So. 2d at 298-99; Levy, 656 So. 2d at 1363.  If she desires, Ms. Johnson may pursue an action in court to enforce the settlement agreement or for damages for the alleged violation of the agreement.  The petition shall be denied as to the portion of the written grievance complaint concerning the violation of the 2009 settlement agreement.

            3.  2009 Demotion:  Director Rowe concluded that Ms. Johnson's complaint concerning her 2009 demotion was not reviewable by the informal grievance committee because she was a permanent employee who was on probation at the time she was demoted.  Rule XX states that in such instances the permanent employee cannot appeal the demotion.  (Pet. App. L). 

            In her petition Ms. Johnson argues that her probationary period, if proper, ended on September 30, 2009, one day prior to her demotion; therefore, she was not on probation at the time she was demoted.  Additionally, she asserts that she was not properly serving a probationary status due to the alleged breach of the settlement agreement.  Ms. Johnson points out that she did not have the opportunity to present this argument to the Department Head or the Informal Grievance Panel because Director Rowe made the determination that there was no jurisdiction to consider her grievance.

            The Court holds that Ms. Johnson was denied due process when the Director summarily determined that there was no jurisdiction to consider her claims concerning the 2009 demotion and apparently did not consider the merits of her counsel's argument that she was not serving a probationary status at the time of her demotion.  As this Court concludes that the written grievance was timely filed, the petition shall be granted as to the portion of the written grievance complaint concerning Ms. Johnson's 2009 demotion.

            4.  Dissatisfaction with Prior Supervisor:  Director Rowe did not address Ms. Johnson's allegations concerning her alleged dissatisfaction with the treatment by her prior supervisor but merely referred her to the Office of Human Rights.

            The Court holds that the Director's response to Ms. Johnson's allegations concerning treatment of Ms. Johnson by her prior supervisor was improper.  Rule XX provides that an employee may present a grievance concerning "[a]ny matter relating to an employee's working condition; which an employee believes is unfair, unjust or inequitable."  Director Rowe's interpretation of Rule XX to conclude that Ms. Johnson's complaint is not subject to the grievance system, but should be handled by the Office of Human Rights is not within the range of permissible interpretations.  See Paloumbis, 840 So. 2d at 298-99; see also Levy, 656 So. 2d at 1363.  As this Court concludes that the written grievance was timely filed, the petition shall be granted as to the portion of the written grievance complaint concerning allegations of Ms. Johnson's improper treatment by her prior supervisor.

Substantial, Competent Evidence

            Finally, there must be a review of the evidence concerning Director Rowe's conclusion that allegations of the alleged violation of the 2009 settlement agreement could not be pursued through the informal grievance process.  See Falk v. Scott, 19 So. 3d at 1104.  This Court concludes that upon reviewing the evidence, as detailed above, there was competent, substantial evidence to support Director Rowe's determination that the complaint concerning the 2009 settlement agreement was not subject to the informal grievance process.

            The Petition for Writ of Certiorari is granted in part as to Ms. Johnson's written grievance concerning the 2009 performance review, the 2009 demotion, and Ms. Johnson's treatment by her prior supervisor.  In all other respects the petition shall be denied.

Petition for Writ of Mandamus

            Ms. Johnson seeks a writ of mandamus to require the informal grievance committee or the Pinellas County Personnel Board to consider her grievance.  All the relief to which Ms. Johnson is entitled has been granted in the consideration of her petition for writ of certiorari.  The petition for writ of mandamus shall be denied.

Conclusion

            The Petition for Writ of Certiorari is GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART.  In accordance with Pinellas County Personnel Rule XX, within ten days of the date of this opinion becomes final, the Department Head of Health and Human Services shall respond in writing to Ms. Johnson's written grievance as to the 2009 performance review, the 2009 demotion, and Ms. Johnson's allegations concerning treatment by her prior supervisor.  The Court believes that Pinellas County will comply with the directions in this Court's opinion and, therefore, declines to issue the writ at this time.

            The Petition for Writ of Mandamus is DENIED.

            DONE AND ORDERED in Chambers in Clearwater, Pinellas County, Florida, this ____ day of June, 2010.

 

Original order entered on June 22, 2010 by Circuit Judges Linda R. Allan, George W. Greer, and John A. Schaefer.

 

Copies furnished to:

 

Ryan D. Barack, Esq.

Michelle Erin Nadeau, Esq.

133 N. Ft. Harrison Ave.

Clearwater, FL 33755

 

 

Carole Sanzeri, Sr. Asst. County Atty

Sarah Richardson, Managing County Atty

315 Court Street, 6th Floor

Clearwater, FL 33756

 

Peggy Rowe, Director, Unified Personnel System

400 S. Ft. Harrison Ave.

Clearwater, FL 33756

 

Maureen Freaney, Bureau Director

Health and Human Services

400 S. Ft. Harrison Ave.

Clearwater, FL 33756

 



[1]   Petitioner's appendix shall be denoted "Pet. App." and Respondent's appendix shall be denoted "Res. App."

[2]   The Court notes that Pinellas County Personnel Rule XX was amended effective March 2010.  The amendment cleared up the apparent ambiguity concerning the deadline for an employee to file a written grievance.  (See Exhibit A: 3/10 Rule).  The amended rule provides in pertinent part that the aggrieved employee shall have the right to bring a grievance to the attention of the immediate responsible supervisor within ten working days from when the employee first becomes aware of the aggrieved situation.  The supervisor shall attempt to resolve the matter.  If the employee is not satisfied with the supervisor’s response or does not receive a response answer [sic], he or she may, "within twenty (20) working days from the date the employee first became aware of the aggrieved situation" place the grievance in written form and submit it to the Department Head. (Emphasis added).