.02 General.

A. Time Limits — Employee. An employee shall file a grievance in writing, on a grievance form supplied by the Human Resources Office, within 30 days of the alleged cause of complaint or knowledge of the complaint. Failure to file or appeal any step of the grievance process within the time limits specified results in dismissal of the grievance.

B. Time Limits — Appointing Authority or Appointing Authority's Designee. Failure to render a decision within the time limits specified constitutes a denial which the employee may appeal, within the appropriate time limits, to the next step of the grievance process.

C. Waiver of Time Limits or Steps. By mutual agreement, both parties may waive time limits or steps of the grievance process.

D. Failure of Grievant to Appear at Scheduled Grievance Conference. Failure of a grievant to appear at a scheduled grievance conference shall result in dismissal of the grievance, unless a valid or documented reason acceptable to the grievance conference officer is provided to explain the grievant's absence.

E. Efforts to Resolve a Grievance and Consolidation of Similar Grievances. Both parties shall endeavor to resolve a grievance at the lowest possible step. Similar grievances may be consolidated and processed together as a single grievance.

F. The employee may be represented at any step of the grievance procedure by any person of the employee's choosing.

G. Arbitration Restrictions. Arbitrators may not hear any grievances related to classification, salary, or fiscal matters.

H. In a reclassification grievance, the Office of Administrative Hearings may award back pay to the employee for a maximum of 1 year before the date the employee presented the grievance in writing to the appointing authority or the appointing authority's designee.

I. Appeals of official reprimands are subject to the grievance process.

J. The burden of proof in grievances is as set forth in COMAR

K. An employee with a written performance appraisal rating equivalent to overall "meets standards" or higher may only grieve the evaluation up to Step Two of the grievance procedure.