On May 9, 2012, AFSCME, Local 323-A (Dodge County Professional Employees and Heidi Burden, a union member) filed a complaint in Dodge County Circuit Court seeking a declaratory judgment that Dodge County’s grievance procedure violated Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m). That statute requires counties and other municipalities to establish grievance systems that provide certain job protections for municipal employees including review of terminations by impartial hearing officers (IHOs). The Union argued that Dodge County’s grievance procedure violated Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m) because it created exceptions to the required impartial review process and specifically because it excluded the category of terminations that applied to Ms. Burden’s dismissal. Both parties moved for summary judgment. The circuit court granted summary judgment to Dodge County, concluding that the County’s grievance procedures complied with the requirements of Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m). The Union appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals. On December 5, 2013, the Court of Appeals concluded that the County’s grievance procedures, as applied to Burden, conflicted with the plain language of Wis. Stat. § 66.0509(1m) and reversed the judgment of the circuit court. The circuit court must now enter judgment in favor of the Union and Ms. Burden.
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