In the case of Ohio Council 8, AFSME, AFL-CIO v. Lakewood, 2023-Ohio-4212, in a plurality decision, an appellate court held that the Ohio State Employment Relationship Board (“SERB”) has exclusive jurisdiction over claims arising under the employee’s collective-bargaining rights and thus the trial court properly dismissed a claim filed by the Union to force arbitration regarding an employee’s termination.
In this case, the employee argued that the city denied the employee’s rights by refusing to arbitrate the employee’s termination in violation of the collective bargaining agreement. In response, the city argued that the right to arbitration came from R.C. Chapter 4117, which grants exclusive jurisdiction for those claims to SERB. The appellate court agreed with the city.
In support of its decision in favor of the city, the appellate court explained that if the city ignored the collective bargaining agreement, then it interfered with the employee’s collective-bargaining rights and refused to bargain collectively, in violation of R.C. 4117.11. The appellate court further explained that the union was seeking to compel arbitration based on rights set forth in R.C. 4117, and thus its claim fell within the exclusive jurisdiction of SERB.
In the dissent, the appellate court explained that the employee did not mention R.C. Chapter 4117 except to identify the employee as a member of the collective bargaining agreement and to identify the city as a public employer. The dissent further explained that while the claims may address topics contained within Chapter 4117, the claims themselves are not found in that chapter, and would not be under the exclusive jurisdiction of SERB, but rather fall under R.C. 4117.09(B), which permits a party to bring suit for violation within the court of common pleas.
To read this case, click here.
NOTE: This case conflicts with another recent decision from a different appellate court, Tipp City Edn. Assn. v. Tipp City Exempted Village School Dist. Bd. of Edn., 2023-Ohio-4000.
Authors: Matthew John Markling and the McGown & Markling Team.
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.