HBA-DMD H.B. 619 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 619 By: Dukes State Affairs 2/11/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Currently, no state agency or institution of higher education provides an impartial review of employee grievances. Employee grievances are handled by internal review procedures or by the courts if the employee is unsatisfied with the outcome of those procedures. H.B. 619 requires the executive director of a state agency or institution of higher education to issue a ruling on all employee complaints not later than 60 days after the grievance is filed and allows the aggrieved employee time off to prepare for a hearing on the grievance. The bill allows the aggrieved employee to appeal a decision by the executive director to the Texas Workforce Commission. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to a state agency in SECTION 1 (Sections 666.003 and 666.006, Government Code) of this bill. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. Amends Subtitle B, Title 6, Government Code, by adding Chapter 666, as follows: CHAPTER 666. GRIEVANCE AND COMPLAINT RESOLUTION PROCEDURES Sec. 666.001. DEFINITIONS. Defines "aggrieved employee," "commission," "complaint," "employee," "executive director," "grievance," "state agency," and "supervisor." Sec. 666.002. POLICY; EXISTING RIGHTS UNAFFECTED. Entitles an employee to due process under this chapter in the review of a decision that affects the employee's working conditions or employment and prohibits the employee's dismissal without cause. Establishes that this chapter does not affect a right existing on September 1, 1999, relating to an employee's ability to use an established dispute resolution process concerning the employee's wages, work hours, or other conditions of employment. Sec. 666.003. RULES. Requires a state agency, by rule, to adopt standards and procedures in accordance with this chapter relating to resolution of a grievance or complaint by an employee. Sec. 666.004. INTERNAL AGENCY PROCEDURE. Requires the executive director to issue a written decision concerning the resolution or denial of a grievance or complaint not later than 60 days after it is filed with the state agency. Sets forth that the review of a complaint by the executive director or executive director's designee is the final review to which an employee is entitled for the complaint. Provides that the executive director's decision on a complaint is final and binding and the executive director's decision on a grievance is final and binding in the absence of an appeal. Sec. 666.005. APPEAL TO COMMISSION; JUDICIAL REVIEW. (a) Authorizes the employee to appeal a grievance to the Texas Workforce Commission (commission) if it is not resolved to the employee's satisfaction by the executive director. Provides that the employee must request the appeal on a form provided by the commission no later than 20 days after the employee receives the executive director's written decision. (b) Requires the commission to conduct a hearing on the grievance no later than 20 days after receiving the request for an appeal. Requires a hearings examiner employed by the commission to conduct the hearing. (c) Sets forth that a hearing conducted under this section is subject to contested case provisions of the administrative procedure law, Chapter 2001, Government Code (Administrative Procedure). (d) Requires the state agency to pay the costs of a hearing if the examiner renders a decision favorable to the employee. Requires that the costs be divided equally between the state agency and the employee if the decision is favorable to the agency. (e) Entitles an employee to judicial review as provided by administrative procedure law, Chapter 2001, if the employee has exhausted all administrative remedies and is aggrieved by the final decision of the commission hearings examiner. Sec. 666.006. TIME OFF. Entitles an employee to a reasonable amount of time off with pay to prepare for and attend a meeting or hearing for resolution of a grievance or complaint. Requires a state agency to adopt rules relating to an employee's entitlement to time off under this section. Sec. 666.007. RETALIATION PROHIBITED. Prohibits an employee from being disciplined, penalized, or prejudiced for exercising a right to which the employee is entitled under this chapter. Provides that an employee may not be prohibited from or disciplined, penalized, or prejudiced for acting as a witness in a proceeding under this chapter. Provides that if a supervisor is authorized by rules adopted under Section 666.003 to render a decision relating to an employee grievance or complaint, the supervisor is prohibited from being disciplined, penalized, or prejudiced for rendering a decision favorable to the employee. Prohibits a supervisor from being coerced or restrained in making a decision. SECTION 2. Requires a state agency to adopt rules as provided by Sections 666.003 and 666.006, Government Code, as added by this Act, not later than January 1, 2000. SECTION 3.Effective date: September 1, 1999. Provides that this Act applies to a grievance or complaint discovered by an employee on or after January 1, 2000. SECTION 4. Emergency clause.