Columbus, OH (December 4, 2008) – A fourth grade teacher from the Coldwater Exempted Village School District has filed a federal suit against the state’s largest teacher union for forcing her to pay compulsory union fees to fund the union whose activities violate her religious faith.
National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation attorneys, providing the teacher with free legal aid, filed the suit this week in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, Eastern Division.
Kathy Hart, an active member of the Catholic Church, has been a teacher in the Ohio public school system since August 1996. Because the public school she works in is unionized, she works under a collective bargaining agreement which forces her to pay compulsory union fees to the National Education Association (NEA) union and its state and local affiliates – the Ohio Education Association (OEA) union and the Coldwater Teachers Organization (CTO) union. Due to her faith, Hart objects to the unions’ positions on abortion and special rights for homosexuals.
Hart had asked that the union divert her compulsory fees to a charity, thereby accommodating her religious objections to supporting financially unions she believes to be involved in immoral activities.
NEA union officials agreed to allow Hart to redirect her compulsory union dues to a mutually agreed upon charity. However, OEA officials refused to accommodate Hart and used the CTO to collect forced union dues from her paycheck. In response, Hart filed charges with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) alleging that the union officials’ actions were religious discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. The EEOC authorized Hart in September to proceed with her own civil action against the OEA and CTO.
National Right to Work Foundation attorneys have helped Ohio teachers in dozens of cases over the last decade involving harassment by officials at the OEA union and its affiliates.
“OEA union bosses have a long and abusive record of violating employees’ rights by refusing to accommodate religious objectors in the workplace,” said Stefan Gleason, vice president of the National Right to Work Foundation. “The OEA union hierarchy’s ugly policy of forcing teachers to fund unions which offend their consciences will continue until Ohio gives employees the protections of a Right to Work law.”
A Right to Work law secures the right of employees to decide whether or not to join or financially support a union. In the 22 states that have passed Right to Work laws, employees are free to follow their conscience and refrain from supporting an unwanted union without having to resort to costly litigation.
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in about 200 cases nationwide per year.