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Courts Lack Jurisdiction over Exclusive Unfair Labor Practice Claims

In the case of State ex rel. Cleveland v. Russo, Slip Opinion No. 2019-Ohio-1595, the Ohio Supreme Court held that a common pleas court patently and unambiguously lacked jurisdiction over a dispute where the matter only involved an alleged unfair labor practice by an employer.

This case involved a dispute between a public employer and a union over the public employer’s desire to shift schedule hours without negotiating with the union. The union filed an unfair labor practice with the Ohio State Employees Relation Board (“SERB”) and sought an order from the common pleas court to prevent the shift schedule change from going into effect. The common pleas court granted the request and ordered the public employer to stop the shift schedule change. In response, the employer petitioned the Ohio Supreme Court to prohibit the common pleas court from enforcing its order arguing that SERB has exclusive jurisdiction over unfair labor practices.

The Supreme Court held that SERB has the “exclusive jurisdiction over all matters arising from rights created by [R.C.] Chapter 4117” such as unfair labor practices. Russo at ¶ 7. While the Supreme Court also held that, “[i]f a party asserts rights that are independent of R.C. Chapter 4117, the party’s complaint may properly be heard in common pleas court;” the Supreme Court concluded that, in this case, “the union’s claims arise out of rights that are set forth in R.C. Chapter 4117 relating to hours” and, therefore, the common pleas court lacked jurisdiction in this case. Russo at ¶ 14.

To read this case, click here.

Authors: Matthew John Markling, Patrick Vrobel, and John T. Sulik, Jr.

Note: This blog entry does not constitute – nor does it contain – legal advice. Legal jurisprudence is like the always changing Midwestern weather. As a result, this single blog entry cannot substitute for consultation with a McGown & Markling attorney. If legal advice is needed with respect to a specific factual situation, please feel free to contact a McGown & Markling attorney.

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