Business, Legal & Accounting Glossary

Definition: Grievance

Full Definition of Grievance

In the world of work, a grievance is a formal statement of complaint, generally against an authority figure. Procedures for grievance are common in unionized organizations.

In many countries, labour unions typically include a committee known as the Grievance Committee or Griefcom which deals with complaints of members against management.

In a unionized organization, a grievance is a formal complaint against the employer, in written format, usually filed by a union steward on behalf of a member of the local union. It is typically understood as any difference arising out of the interpretation, application, administration or alleged violation of the collective bargaining agreement that is in effect at the place of employment but it can also concern violations of common law, such as workplace safety regulations or a human rights code.

Ordinarily, unionized workers must ask their operations managers for time during work hours to meet with a shop steward in order to discuss the problem, which may or may not result in a grievance. If the grievance cannot be resolved through negotiation between labour and management, mediation, arbitration or legal remedies may be employed. Typically, everyone involved with a grievance has strict timelines which must be met in the processing of this formal complaint, until it is resolved. Employers cannot legally treat an employee any differently whether he or she has filed a grievance or not. The difference between a grievance and a complaint, in the unionized workplace, is whether the subject matter relates to the collective bargaining agreement.

The term is also used outside the work context. A substantial section of the United States Declaration of Independence consists of an enumeration of the colonists’ grievances against the “Present King of Great-Britain” (George III). An important part of the American political tradition (guaranteed by the First Amendment) is the right of the people to petition the government for a redress of grievances. An example of the federal government’s approval of grievance mediation is the fact that the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service makes its Commissioners available to the Labor/Management community at no charge for grievance mediation.

Cite Term

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Page URL
Modern Language Association (MLA):
Grievance. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. September 23, 2021
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):
Grievance. Payroll & Accounting Heaven Ltd. (accessed: September 23, 2021).
American Psychological Association (APA):
Grievance. Retrieved September 23, 2021, from website:

Definition Sources

Definitions for Grievance are sourced/syndicated and enhanced from:

  • A Dictionary of Economics (Oxford Quick Reference)
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Accounting
  • Oxford Dictionary Of Business & Management

This glossary post was last updated: 23rd April, 2020 | 9 Views.