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Words Matter – An Exclusion Clause May Not Bar All Arbitrations

In the case of Toledo Fedn. of Teachers v. Bd. of Edn. of the Toledo City School Dist., 2019-Ohio-3025, an Ohio appellate court held that an exclusion clause that merely requires prospective application of arbitration decisions to similar, not-yet-filed grievances did not, by its plain language, bar arbitration of a pending grievance.

In this case, there were two already filed grievances pending at the same time on a teacher professional leave issue. The arbitrator in one of the two pending grievances ruled in favor of the school board. As a result, the school board argued that the exclusion clause prohibited the second pending from proceeding to arbitration because the arbitrator in the first pending grievance already ruled on the similar issue. The union asserted that the exclusion clause only applies to not-yet-filed grievances so the second pending grievance must proceed to arbitration regardless of whether the issues are similar.

An Ohio appellate court ultimately agreed with the union based upon the plain language of exclusion clause itself. The appellate court also found that whether grievances are “similar” under the exclusion clause is a matter for an arbitrator to decide, not the court.

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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