OEA Legal Services — Protecting Your Rights

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The cost of hiring an attorney to protect employment rights or a personal legal matter should not be a deterrent to an OEA member.

Each year, the OEA-NEA Legal Services Program provides paid legal representation to members who are forced to take legal action in a matter relating to their job.

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OEA Legal Services: 614-227-3042.

If attempts to resolve the situation through administrative procedures fail, an OEA member can contact their OEA Labor Relations Consultant to apply for Legal Services Program assistance.

If the application is approved, OEA will assign the case to an attorney in a law firm that specializes in education employee representation. Examples of cases that may qualify for coverage are contract termination, suspension or non-renewal, continuing contract rights, deprivation of a member’s rights, privileges or benefits provided by Ohio education laws, a local master contract, the individual member’s contract or the employer’s policy; demotion and/or reassignment; salary disputes; leaves of absence and/or reinstatement rights; and certification or licensing matters.

Local associations may qualify for assistance for contract enforcement; State Employment Relations Board representation; services related to bargaining or impasse, including interest arbitration; and for crisis situations, such as a strike or a bargaining election. Local associations also are reimbursed for most of the costs of grievance arbitration and impasse panels.

Representation Before State Agencies

OEA also represents member concerns before a variety of state boards and agencies, including the State Board of Education, Ohio Department of Education, Educator Standards Board, State Employment Relations Board, Ohio Department of DD, School Employee Health Care Board, and the three retirement systems to which OEA members belong—the State Teachers Retirement System (STRS), the School Employees Retirement System (SERS), and the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS).

Unfair Labor Practice

An unfair labor practice is a charge filed with the State Employment Relations Board (SERB) that alleges a violation of Chapter 4117. Such violations can include the following:

  • Bad faith bargaining or refusal to bargain;
  • Retaliation for association activity;
  • Interference with the formation or administration of an association;
  • A failure of the association in its duty to fairly represent all bargaining unit members; and,
  • Refusal of the employer to process grievances, among other actions.

Click here to learn more. If you feel that you or your association has been the victim of an unfair labor practice, you should contact your Labor Relations Consultant, who will begin the process of assigning an OEA attorney to the case.

Weingarten Rights

Every OEA member is guaranteed the right to union representation during an investigatory interview conducted by his or her employer if the interview could in any way lead to discipline, including termination, or could affect the member’s personal or working conditions. In this situation, the member should request that an association representative or officer be present at the meeting. Click here to learn more.

Employee Liability Protection

If a member is confronted with a lawsuit over something that happens to a student while under the member’s supervision, the law says the school board must provide the member legal representation and protect him/her from financial loss. But if the school board threatens to renege on its responsibility, a member can count the Association for protection. Click here to learn more.

Attorney Referral Program

NEA/OEA have identified attorneys throughout the state who have agreed to handle certain personal legal matters at a substantially reduced rate. Click here to learn more.