ZAZZALI LAW FIRM OBTAINS MULTI-MILLION DOLLAR SETTLEMENT OF CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT ON BEHALF OF RETIREES OF HAMILTON BOARD OF EDUCATION
Firm Partner Richard A. Friedman, Esq., with the assistance of Associates Genevieve M. Murphy-Bradacs, Esq. and Marissa A. McAleer, Esq., obtained a settlement of a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of retirees of the Hamilton Township Board of Education. The lawsuit alleged that the Board breached its contractual obligations to make cash payments in lieu of a prescription drug obligation to certain retirees, and in some instances to their dependents. The lawsuit argued that the Board violated the applicable contracts when it stopped making these payments, and that as a result, the Class Members were entitled to retroactive and prospective relief.
The Class was divided into subclasses of retirees, with the Zazzali Firm representing the subclasses of former Hamilton Township Education Association members and former Hamilton Township School Secretaries Association members, and with the subclass of administrators and supervisors being represented by Robert M. Schwartz, Esq. of the Schwartz Law Group.
On December 21, 2017, the Superior Court of New Jersey issued its Order of Final Approval, approving the proposed class settlement. The Board has agreed to pay $17,000,000 to members of all subclasses combined. This amount reflects retroactive and prospective relief to all members of the subclasses. Subclasses represented by the Zazzali Firm will receive a portion of the total payout in the amount of $13,000,000.
The Zazzali Firm is very pleased that it was able to secure such a successful result for our clients in this matter.
Mr. Lynch will be presenting, along with other highly respected labor and employment law attorneys, on cutting-edge issues in the filed of labor and employment law. The seminar will be held at the New Jersey Law Center on Dec. 14th from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information about the seminar, click here.
FIRM PARTNER FLAVIO L. KOMUVES, ESQ. SUCCESSFULLY DEFEATS LAWSUIT CHALLENGING THE LEGALITY OF UNION RELEASE TIME
The Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery Division, recently dismissed a lawsuit filed on behalf of two New Jersey taxpayers that challenged the release time provision in the collective negotiations agreement (CNA) between the Jersey City Education Association and the Jersey City School District. More specifically, in Rozenbilt v. Lyles, Dkt. No. HUD-C-2-17 (Ch. Div. Oct. 31, 2017), the Plaintiffs alleged that the release time provision in the CNA that allowed the union president and his/her designee to conduct union business and affairs on a full-time basis while being paid a teacher’s salary violated the “Gift Clause” of the New Jersey Constitution. The court disagreed with Plaintiffs, and agreed instead with the arguments of Defendants, the Jersey City Education Association and the school administration. The court agreed with Defendants that the Gift Clause is not violated if the money at issue is being used for a public purpose, and the release time provisions in the CNA “serve valid public purposes” as they “are implementations of a statutory right”, i.e., the right of public employees to form and join a union and have their collectively negotiated agreements administered and enforced by representatives of their choosing. Furthermore, much of the union officials’ work involved the conciliation of grievances, and peacekeeping and peacemaking efforts between administrators and teachers, all of which served a valid public purpose. In addition, the court found that the Jersey City School District retained sufficient control over the use of release time by released employees, such that there was no Constitutional violation.
The lawsuit was filed by a right-wing advocacy group on behalf of the Plaintiffs, one of whom was from Jersey City and the other was from Whippany. Mr. Komuves, on behalf of the Zazzali Firm, vigorously opposed the suit, and is pleased that the court agreed that paid union release time does not violate the Gift Clause of the New Jersey Constitution. The Zazzali Firm will continue to fight against any such attacks on the rights of unions and their members.
Representing the Newark Teachers Union, Local 481, AFT, AFL-CIO (“NTU”), Firm Partner, Colin M. Lynch, successfully arbitrated the Newark Public Schools’ failure to comply with its obligations under its 2012 collective negotiations agreement. To read more about this award, please see our blog post HERE.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ZAZZALI FIRM PARTNER, FLAVIO L. KOMUVES, ON HIS APPOINTMENT TO THE NEW JERSEY SUPREME COURT'S ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON EXTRAJUDICIAL ACTIVITIES
Firm partner Flavio L. Komuves, Esq. was recently appointed to the New Jersey Supreme Court’s Advisory Committee on Extrajudicial Activities for the 2017-19 term. Upon his appointment, Mr. Komuves said: “I am grateful to the Chief Justice, Judge Grant, and the management of the Administrative Office of the Courts for the opportunity to serve the Bench and the Bar as a member of the Advisory Committee.”
ZAZZALI FIRM OBTAINS SUCCESSFUL DECISION ON BEHALF OF SEVERAL TEACHING STAFF MEMBERS REGARDING RIGHT TO VESTED, ACCUMULATED SICK LEAVE
Firm Partner Richard A. Friedman along with Associate Genevieve M. Murphy-Bradacs recently obtained a judgment on behalf of several teaching staff members in the case of Barila et al . v. Cliffside Bd. Of Educ., BER-C-161-16. Plaintiffs were all teachers and/or former teachers employed by the Defendant, the Board of Education of Cliffside Park.
The collective negotiations agreement governing the terms and conditions of plaintiffs’ employment provided that any teacher, who, as of the end of any school year – beginning with the 2009-10 school year – who had either been employed by the Board for at least ten (10) years and retired under the Teachers’ Pension and Annuity Fund, or who had been employed by the Defendant for twenty-five years and left the employ of the Board for any reason, was entitled to compensation (in an amount to be calculated pursuant to a specified formula) for accumulated but unused sick leave, up to a maximum of $25,000. An identical provision appeared in prior collective negotiations agreements for at least the last 20 years.
The successor collective negotiations agreement negotiated by the Association and the Board, which became effective July 1, 2015, modified Article VIII by reducing the maximum amount of compensation that could be paid for accrued, unused sick leave to $15,000. It did so prospectively, and purported to do so retroactively as well. Plaintiffs, all of whom have been employed by the Board for at least ten (10) years, argued that they had acquired vested rights in the value of their unused accumulated sick time pursuant to the 2012-2015 Agreement, and predecessor agreements, as a matter of law.
Plaintiffs filed a complaint seeking, inter alia, an order of the Court finding and declaring that plaintiffs possess a vested contractual right to the maximum amount of compensation specified in the 2012-2015 Agreement for all unused sick leave accumulated prior to July 1, 2015. The Court agreed, and as a matter of first impression, held that an employee’s right to accumulated sick leave vests upon fulfilling the service conditions, and that this right survives the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement and cannot be bargained away, including by the union.
PERS MEMBER AWARDED DISABILITY BENEFITS FOLLOWING APPELLATE DIVISION REVERSAL OF BOARD OF TRUSTEES' DECISION
Firm Partner Richard A. Friedman, Esq., along with Associate Edward M. Suarez, Esq., successfully appealed a denial of ordinary disability retirement benefits by the PERS Board of Trustees. In Kelly v. Bd. of Trustees, PERS, the Board denied Ms. Kelly’s application, and the matter was transmitted to the Office of Administrative Law for a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ concluded that Ms. Kelly was required to prove that she was generally unemployable as a result of her disability, and in any event that she did not prove permanent and total disability for her position. The Board summarily adopted the ALJ’s decision, and Ms. Kelly appealed to the Appellate Division, arguing that Ms. Kelly was only required to prove that she was unable to perform the duties in the general area of her employment to qualify for benefits, that she had done so, and that she was not required to prove inability to be employed generally. The Appellate Division agreed, and reversed and remanded the case back to the PERS Board to consider the facts of the case anew in light of the correct standard. On remand, the PERS Board granted Ms. Kelly’s application for ordinary disability benefits, concluding that she was totally and permanently disabled from the performance of her duties in the general area of her employment.
The case is somewhat unusual because although appellate courts may disagree with an agency’s interpretation of the law, they rarely reverse an agency’s factual findings. In this case, in addition to disagreeing with the agency’s interpretation of the law, the court reversed material factual findings by the agency as inconsistent with the evidentiary record.
ZAZZALI FIRM AWARDS SCHOLARSHIP AT THE NTU’S 19TH ANNUAL HALL OF FAME DINNER
On behalf of the Zazzali Firm, Partners Colin M. Lynch, Esq. and Richard A. Friedman, Esq. presented an Albert Shanker Scholarship Award to Berkley High School Student Veronica Cardiellos at the Newark Teachers Union’s 19th Annual Hall of Fame Dinner. Veronica’s mother is a member of the NTU employed at the Wilson Avenue School in Newark. Veronica was accepted at and plans to attend Rutgers University to study medicine. The Zazzali Firm wishes Veronica the best in her future studies and congratulates all Shanker Scholarship Award winners.
ZAZZALI FIRM SUCCESSFUL BEFORE APPELLATE DIVISION IN CASE REAFFIRMING THAT SCHEDULE CHANGE DOES NOT BAR AWARD OF OVERTIME
The Zazzali Firm recently scored a victory in the Appellate Division which upheld an arbitration opinion awarding a substantial amount of overtime compensation as a result of a schedule change. The court’s unanimous decision in Middletown Township v. Middletown Township Police SOA reaffirms that municipalities may be required to compensate members for any overtime worked as a result of a new schedule implemented without agreement of the union. Paul L. Kleinbaum, Esq. and Kaitlyn E. Dunphy, Esq. represented the SOA in this case. The court’s decision thus highlights the right to enforce contractual provisions concerning compensation even in the face of the exercise of a managerial prerogative.
FLAVIO KOMUVES, ESQ. NAMED PARTNER OF ZAZZALI LAW FIRM
The Zazzali Firm is pleased to announce that Flavio L. Komuves, Esq, has been named Partner. Mr. Komuves has been practicing law for almost 20 years, has previously worked with large firms and has extensive government and nonprofit sector experience. He currently serving as Chair of the New Jersey Bar Association Election Law Committee.
FLAVIO KOMUVES PRESENTS AT PERC CONFERENCE
Flavio Komuves, Esq. recently was part of the faculty at the annual New Jersey Public Employment Conference. He addressed the participants about H.G. v. Harrington, a case that sought to have New Jersey laws about teachers’ seniority rights in the case of a layoff declared unconstitutional. The Firm, along with co-counsel Richard Shapiro and Steven Cohen, represents the New Jersey Education Association in defending the validity of these laws. The court, agreeing with the NJEA's arguments, granted its motion to dismiss on May 3, 2017.
KENNETH NOWAK WINS UNION DUES CASE BEFORE NLRB ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE
Firm Partner Kenneth Nowak, Esq. recently won a case before an Administrative Law Judge in the NLRB. The parties had negotiated their first CBA, and reached an agreement which was ratified in November, 2015.. The parties agreed that the effective date of the contract would be the November date of ratification, but that dues would not be deducted and remitted to the Union until January 1. In late December, 2015, the Company attorney drew up a CBA for each facility which expressly reflected these two dates, and the Union immediately signed the CBAs, returned them to the Company, and began to collect dues authorization cards, which were submitted to the Company in January. The Company promptly acknowledged receiving the cards, though a few were missing, and said it would deduct dues for those whose cards they had. However, no dues were submitted for January or February. The Company engaged in two campaigns, in December and February, to have the bargaining unit members sign that they wanted to be “financial core” payers rather than full dues paying members.
At the end of February, the Company sent a letter to the Union stating that they would send the contracts signed by the owner shortly, but they were changing the date for the commencement of dues deductions from January to March due to the “confusion” as to which employees wanted to be financial core members. In March, the Company sent the CBA to the Union, signed by the owner, with the dues deduction date of January crossed and changed by hand to March. The Union sent it back, crossing out “March” and writing back in “January.” The Union again sent dues remittance forms to the Company, which in April finally paid for March and April, but not for January or February, claiming that the effective date for dues deductions was when the Company signed the CBAs (March), not the January date written in the contracts. After a hearing, the ALJ found that the Company violated Sections 8(a)(1) and (5). The ALJ noted that the Company created the confusion about what dues to pay, and could not unilaterally declare that the dues were not owed until the Company signed the CBAs because it would delay signing them, and commented that in this case they did delay, and stressed that the Company could not unilaterally change a written term of the contract, which required dues to be deducted starting in January. She ordered the Company to pay the January and February dues, with interest, and to post a notice of violation. The case is on the NLRB website under County Concrete and Local 863 IBT, Case No. 22-CA-171328, and can also be viewed by clicking HERE.
ROBERT A. FAGELLA AND PAUL L. KLEINBAUM NAMED NEW JERSEY "SUPER LAWYERS"
Congratulations to Firm partners, ROBERT A. FAGELLA, ESQ. and PAUL L. KLEINBAUM, ESQ., who were recently named to New Jersey Lawyers Magazine's 2017 list of Super Lawyers in the field of Labor and Employment Law. The Super Lawyers list is issued by Thomson Reuters. The process underlying the selection process for Super Lawyers may be found at www.superlawyers.com/about/selection_process.html. No aspect of this advertisement has been approved by the Supreme Court of New Jersey.
APPELLATE DIVISION HOLDS THAT LAID-OFF EMPLOYEE IS ENTITLED TO EVIDENTIARY HEARING ON SENIORITY RIGHTS LAYOFF APPEAL TO THE CIVIL SERVICE
In a recent unpublished Decision, firm partner, Colin M. Lynch, Esq., representing Newark Public Schools employee, Johanna Rios, obtained reversal of a Final Agency Decision of the Civil Service Commission denying her seniority layoff appeal to that Agency. Ms. Rios was subject to a layoff action in anticipation of the 2014-15 school year. At the time of the layoff, she was classified by Newark Public Schools as a Community Aide. However, she contended that she was, in fact, a Teacher’s Aide with greater seniority than several employees who were spared from layoff. In support of her appeal, she presented evidence indicating that she was paid as a Teacher’s Aide, performed work as a Teacher’s Aide, and was enrolled in the public employee retirement system as a Teacher’s Aide. The Commission disregarded that evidence, and concluded that simply because the Newark Public Schools informed the Commission at the time of her hiring that she was a Community Aide, that she was neither entitled to a hearing, nor a reversal of the layoff action. On appeal, Rios sought reversal of the Commission’s Decision, or in the alternative, remand of the matter for an evidentiary hearing to establish her proper title at the time of the layoff. The Appellate Division agreed, noting that while a seniority layoff appeal is generally conducted pursuant to written record, that the Commission erred in arbitrarily denying a hearing where there existed a genuine dispute of material fact as to Rios’ proper title and seniority rights in connection with the layoff action. As a result, the matter was remanded to the Commission for further proceedings, which should include a full evidentiary hearing. A copy of the Decision is available by clicking this link.
ZAZZALI FIRM AND PARTNER ROBERT A. FAGELLA, ESQ., SCORE MAJOR SUNSHINE LAW VICTORY
In two recent published decisions, the Appellate Division invalidated personnel actions of the Kean University Board of Trustees and broke new legal ground in interpreting the Open Public Meetings Act (“OPMA”), popularly known as the “Sunshine Law”. The lawsuit alleged that the Board violated the OPMA by:
Failing to send notices to every faculty member up for reappointment/non-reappointment (“” notices), advising that they have a right to seek a public discussion at the upcoming Board meeting;
2. Failing to keep “reasonably comprehensible” minutes of its executive (closed) meetings; and
3. Failing to release both public and closed minutes “promptly.”
On the issue, the University contended that the notices were unnecessary because the personnel discussions took place in a non-public executive session, and thus no faculty member’s privacy was violated. The Court rejected this claim and agreed with the Faculty Association that notices should have been sent because it is up to the individual, not the Board, to decide whether public discussion is warranted.
The Board had also heavily redacted its closed (executive) session minutes of those discussions when they were finally released.The Court held these redactions made it impossible to understand what took place in that non-public discussion, and were not “reasonably comprehensible”.The Court held that once the reason for an executive session meeting is concluded, full minutes must be released.
Additionally, the Court held that under OPMA, minutes of both public and closed sessions must be issued “promptly”, and that delays of up to 90 days (as took place here) violated the law’s requirements. The trial court had ruled that minutes should be issued with 30-45 days.The Appellate Division rejected the Board claim that since it only meets five times per year, it could not meet such a timetable.
“We agree with the trial judge that waiting two or three months to release the minutes does not comply with the mandate of the OPMA. . . If this requires the Board to meet ten times per year to make the minutes of its meeting promptly available to the public, so be it.”
The Board repeated these same violations, with some variations, at another meeting (while the first case was on appeal), triggering a second lawsuit.Once again, the Board did not send notices to faculty up for reappointment.This time, however, the Board claimed it never had any intention to discuss faculty members either privately or publicly, and in fact did not conduct any such discussion, thus allegedly avoiding the need to send notices.
The Court held that notices are designed to insure Board members effectuate their statutory responsibility to discuss candidates freely, and not just rubber-stamp the recommendations of the President.Thus, it is legally irrelevant whether the Board actually conducts any discussion.Each Board member has an independent obligation to consider all personnel actions of the President, and while Trustees cannot be forced to actually discuss and deliberate, the University cannot create a situation in which Board members are intimidated from discussions because the affected personnel never received a Rice notice.
…. The notice requirement in Rice is predicated on a presumption that members of public bodies will discuss personnel matters that come before them, question the underlying basis for the course of action recommended by the staff, and deliberate before reaching an ultimate decision that reflects their views of the members. . . a silent unexplained vote to approve a list of preapproved candidates in public session gives the impression that the Board colluded to circumvent the OPMA requirements. When a public body acts on a personnel matter without prior discussion of any kind, the silent unexplained vote cast by the board member reduces the event to a perfunctory exercise, devoid of both substance and meaning”.
To remedy the OPMA violations, the Court held that the Board’s personnel actions were declared “null and void.”Resolution of this significant aspect of the decision will probably require further litigation, and has already triggered an “emergent appeal” by the University.
In the interim, the case clarifies that public bodies must send notices whenever personnel actions are being considered, and that release of either public or closed sessions minutes must take place “reasonably promptly”, even if it is an inconvenience to the public body.
FIRM PARTNER, COLIN M. LYNCH, OBTAINS DISMISSAL OF TENURE CHARGES AGAINST TWO NEWARK TEACHERS
In two recently issued arbitration decisions, Colin M. Lynch, Esq., obtained dismissal of tenure charges against two teachers employed by the Newark Public Schools.
In the first case, the District sought removal of tenured teacher, D.C., based upon alleged inefficiency in her teaching performance during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. The charges were brought pursuant to the TEACHNJ Act, which allows Districts to pursue tenure charges based upon two consecutive years of alleged ineffective and/or partially effective performance evaluations. D.C. challenged her termination on the grounds that the observations of her teaching performance taken during the 2013-14 school year demonstrated her performance was effective, notwithstanding a year-end annual evaluation rating her performance as partially effective. D.C. contended that the first observation taken that year, and the only one finding her partially effective, was arbitrary in that she was observed teaching a class to which she had not yet been assigned at the time and was unfamiliar with the students assigned to the class. She challenged her rating of ineffective for the 2014-15 school year on the basis that the District failed to properly score her Student Growth Objectives (“SGOs”) established in her Corrective Action Plan and that the District’s failure to do so was a material violation of the statutory and regulatory observation and evaluation procedures. Arbitrator Robert J. Simmelkjaer, in his Opinion and Award dated December 30, 2016, agreed, and dismissed the charges. Among other conclusions, the Arbitrator found that consideration of the first observation of D.C., during the 2013-14 school year and prior to the time period she was assigned to teach the class was arbitrary. In addition, the Arbitrator found the District’s failure to review and consider D.C.’s SGOs prior to issuing its annual evaluation at the conclusion of the 2014-15 school year rendered her evaluation rating for that school year arbitrary as well. Accordingly, Arbitrator Simmelkjaer dismissed the charges against D.C. and reinstated her with appropriate back pay benefits and seniority. A copy of the Decision may be found by clicking here.
The second case involved Newark Public Schools Teacher P.U. The District brought charges against P.U. contending that she demonstrated inefficient performance through partially effective evaluation ratings during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. Immediately prior to the commencement of the hearing, P.U. filed a motion to dismiss contending that the District failed to comply with its discovery obligations under the Act. More specifically, P.U. noted that as of the last day prior to the scheduled hearing commencement date, the District had not responded to P.U.’s demand for answers to interrogatories. Moreover, P.U. noted that the District failed to provide complete summaries of witness testimony upon referral of the case to arbitration, as required by the TEACHNJ Act. Arbitrator Andree Y. McKissick agreed and dismissed the charge. A copy of the decision may be found by clicking here.
FIRM REPRESENTS NJEA IN DEFEATING STATE'S LAWSUIT SEEKING TO COMPEL NJEA REPRESENTATIVES' ATTENDANCE AT SEHBC MEETING
Superior Court Judge Mary Jacobson dismissed with prejudice the State’s lawsuit seeking to compel NJEA representatives to attend a meeting of the SEHBC where the State intended to force a vote on moving all Medicare eligible retirees in the SEHBP to a Medicare Advantage plan. The NJEA was represented by Firm attorneys Robert A. Fagella, Esq. and Aileen M. O'Driscoll, Esq. An article regarding the case can be found HERE.
APPELLATE DIVISION HOLDS THAT DISABILITY RETIREES ARE NOT REQUIRED TO PAY HEALTH INSURANCE CONTRIBUTIONS
In Brick Twp. PBA Local 230 & Michael Spallina v. Twp. of Brick, issued on June 21, 2016, the Appellate Division held that law enforcement officers who retire on an ordinary or accidental disability pension, and who did not have twenty (20) years of pensionable service as of June 28, 2011 when Chapter 78 became effective, are not required to contribute toward their insurance coverage, provided that the collectively negotiated agreement mandates retiree health coverage. Firm Partner Paul L. Kleinbaum, Esq. represented the State PBA as amicus curiae in the appeal, with the assistance of Firm Associate Marissa A. McAleer, Esq. The case is significant because it affects all public employees, not just law enforcement officers. Public employees who retire on an accidental or ordinary disability pension can now rest assured that they will not be required to make contributions towards the cost of their health insurance premiums, even if they did not have 20 years of pensionable service when Chapter 78 became effective. The key is that the applicable collective bargaining agreement must provide for employer-paid benefits at an employee’s retirement.
FIRM PARTNER PAUL L. KLEINBAUM OBTAINS INJUNCTION PREVENTING THE CITY OF NEWARK FROM ELIMINATING TRADITIONAL HEALTH INSURANCE PLAN
Firm Partner PAUL L. KLEINBAUM, ESQ., with the assistance of Associate MARISSA A. MCALEER, ESQ., obtained an Order from PERC enjoining the City of Newark from eliminating the Traditional Health Insurance Plan for its active and retired Fire Officers, Police Officers, and Firefighters. Mr. Kleinbaum represented the Newark Fire Officers Union Local 1860, IAFF, AFL-CIO. Local 1860 was joined by the Fraternal Order of Police, Newark Lodge No. 12 and the Newark Firefighters Union. The unions jointly filed an Unfair Labor Practice charge and sought interim relief on the grounds that the City, unilaterally and without negotiations, terminated the Traditional Plan and enrolled employees and retirees who were covered by the Traditional Plan in the Direct Access Plan unless another alternative plan was chosen. In addition to preventing the City from rescinding the Traditional Plan, the City was also ordered to create a fund to reimburse those employees and retirees who incurred additional costs because of the City’s elimination of the Traditional Plan.
APPELLATE DIVISION REVERSED PERC DECISION WHICH NEGATED AN OVER 35-YEAR HISTORY OF PAYMENT OF SALARY STEPS IN EXPIRED COLLECTIVE NEGOTIATIONS AGREEMENTS.
Firm Partner PAUL L. KLEINBAUM. ESQ. and Associate MARISSA A. MCALEER, ESQ. represented amicus curiae, the New Jersey State PBA, in In re County of Atlantic and PBA Local 243. The Appellate Division overturned the recent reversal by PERC of over 35-years of agency case law and in doing so, held that a public employer cannot refuse to pay salary step increments after a contract has expired and before a new contract has been negotiated if it has done so in the past. The Zazzali Firm was joined by a number of other firms representing public sector unions, including the NJEA, FMBA, IFPTE, PFANJ and FOP, all of which argued for a reversal of PERC’s recent change in the dynamic status quo doctrine. In very strong and unequivocal language, the Court found that PERC undermined its legislative mandate and was not free to discard the doctrine it had applied for so many years. A copy of the Court’s decision can be found HERE.
FIRM PARTNER, COLIN M. LYNCH, OBTAINS RULING THAT NEWARK PUBLIC SCHOOLS BROKE THE LAW BY INTERFERING WITH NJEA CONVENTION LEAVE; BY REFUSING TO PROVIDE INFORMATION REGARDING TEACHER EVALUATIONS; AND BLOCKING UNION ACESSS TO SCHOOL DISTRICT EMAIL.
Firm Partner COLIN M. LYNCH, ESQ. obtained a judgment on behalf of the Newark Teachers’ Union in the PERC case of State-Operated School District, City of Newark, Dkt. No. CO-2014-098 (October 20, 2015). The Newark Teachers’ Union (NTU) filed an unfair labor practice against the District, arguing that 1) the District violated the PERC Act by interfering with members’ NJEA convention leave by placing irrelevant requirements and restrictions on the taking of such leave; 2) the District violated the PERC Act by refusing to provide the names of teachers who received "ineffective" performance observations to the NTU; and 3) the District violated the PERC Act by blocking NTU access to the District's email system to communicate with members.
The parties filed cross-motions for summary judgment, and the Hearing Examiner assigned to the case agreed with the NTU that the District violated the PERC Act for the reasons stated above, and ordered that the District cease and desist from interfering with members’ exercise of their rights guaranteed to them by the PERC Act, and specifically ordered the District to stop placing restrictions on employees’ ability to attend the NJEA convention, to stop refusing to provide the NTU with names and addresses of unit employees receiving ineffective summative performance evaluations in 2013, and to stop blocking NTU representatives’ email access to unit employees. The Hearing Examiner’s decision is being transferred to the full Commission for consideration, and the parties may file exceptions to the Hearing Examiner’s decision. A copy of the PERC’s decision can be found HERE.
©2018 Zazzali, Fagella, Nowak, Kleinbaum & Friedman. News is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice nor does it create an attorney/client relationship between the Zazzali Law Firm and any readers or recipients. Readers should consult counsel of their own choosing to discuss how these matters relate to their individual circumstances. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the express written consent of the Zazzali Law Firm.