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Untimely Arbitration Demands May Not Be Arbitrable

In the case of Streetsboro Edn. Assn. v. Streetsboro City School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2019-Ohio-2170, an Ohio appellate court held that the express time limitations for bringing arbitrations set forth in the grievance procedure of a collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”) is binding and can result in untimely grievances not being arbitrable.

In this case, several parents complained to a school board that two teachers were allegedly encouraging student-on-student hazing. In response, the school board initiated pre-termination proceedings and eventually terminated the teachers.

The teacher’s union filed grievances for the teachers under the grievance procedures set forth in the CBA and proceeded through each steps of the grievance procedures up to arbitration. For whatever reason, the teacher’s union failed to demand arbitration within the five-day limitations period set forth in the CBA and, instead, demanded arbitration after the five-day deadline expired. As a result, the school board refused to arbitrate the matter arguing that the arbitration demand was untimely and, therefore, not arbitrable.

Both the trial and appellate courts agreed with the school board. Specifically, the appellate court found that the arbitration demand “was filed well beyond the five-day limitations period set forth in” the CBA. Streetsboro Edn. Assn. at ¶ 25. The appellate court further found that the school board and the teacher’s union previously “engaged in litigation that concluded in an arbitrator rendering a decision [] that untimely grievances under the CBA are not arbitrable” and that the legal presumption favoring arbitration does not defeat the time limitations period set forth in the CBA.

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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