Typically, the board of directors would only handle the grievances of employees whose salaries they set, such as a president, CEO or another top-level executive. A lower-level employee could go to the board, but it would be unusual, although not unprecedented. Generally, these cases would involve inappropriate behavior by management. Cases in which a lower-level employee might appeal to the board would be if she is claiming that a manager issued a salary-based retaliation against her for filing a complaint. If you have a grievance over your salary and your supervisors haven't been unable to remedy the issue, going to the board of directors might your next best move. Write your letter as a plea for help and clarification rather than as a complaint. You need to be perceived as professional and reasonable. Being perceived in a positive light increases your likelihood of being heard; it also makes it easier for you to continue working at your company.
Review your employment contract and human resources documents. Note any conflicts in your contract and how you have been treated on the job. Make a list so that you can include these items in your letter.
File a grievance, using the grievance procedure outlined in your employment contract, union documentation or the procedures listed in your human resources department. Exhaust the internal HR grievance process before you consult with the board of directors. You will need to gather proof, so if your company or organization lists a specific procedure for contacting the board of directors listed in your employment documentation, follow that procedure to the letter.
Draft your letter. Open with a professional salutation. Make your letter brief and to the point; include facts, not opinions. If, for example, you believe that your company is paying women less than men, state, "I am making less than the man who was hired for a similar position" rather than saying, "My boss is being sexist with regard to promotions and compensation." The tone of your letter should be friendly and professional, and should state clearly what you need for your grievance to be resolved. You want to be perceived as someone seeking help, not as someone looking to point fingers. Do not threaten legal action or threaten to quit. Conclude your letter with a request for an in-person meeting with the board.
Attach any written documentation of your grievance to the letter. Include reports of grievances you have filed, salary and wage documentation, relevant portions of your contract and e-mails with supervisors if they are relevant. Refer to these attachments in your letter. For example, say, "See attachment A, my contract, for more information." Then itemize these attachments as enclosures at the end of your letter by typing, "Enc.:" followed by a list of the included items.
Include any relevant information about your professional accomplishments that make it clear that you deserve a different salary. These accomplishments should be things that you have achieved since your last raise or promotion.
Ensure that your letter follows the appropriate format for business letters. It should either be written on your business letterhead, with your name and address centered at the top, or should have your name, address and other contact information at the top right corner. The board of director's address and contact person name should follow to the left underneath your name and address. Use a business salutation such as "Dear Mr. Smith:" if your letter is addressed to one member of the board of directors or "Dear Board of Directors:" if the letter is addressed to the entire board. Check the letter for proper spelling and grammar and sign the letter.
Send a copy of the letter via certified mail, return receipt requested. If you attend meetings of the board of directors, you may also wish to hand-deliver the grievance. This gives you an opportunity to immediately discuss the grievance in person.
References & Resources
- How to Say It, Third Edition; Rosalie Maggio
- Harvard Business School: Negotiating What You're Worth
- Helena-West Helena School District: Certified Personnel Grievances
- Strategic Business Letters and E-mail; Sheryl Lindsell-Roberts
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images