The Buckeye Institute Takes School Guidance Counselor Case to Ohio Supreme Court

Oct 24, 2022

Columbus, OH – On Friday, The Buckeye Institute filed its appeal brief with the Ohio Supreme Court in Kolkowski v. Ashtabula Area Teachers Association, urging the court to hear the case and recognize that a union—which Barbara Kolkowski is not a member of—cannot force her to accept union legal representation to arbitrate her workplace grievance.

“When the United States Supreme Court issued its opinion in Janus v. AFSCME, it recognized that public employment does not require public employees to surrender their constitutional rights. Ohio has recognized that same right in its constitution and laws,” said Jay R. Carson, senior litigator at The Buckeye Institute and an attorney representing Ms. Kolkowski. “But that is just what the union—which Ms. Kolkowski is not a member of—is forcing her to do—surrender her right to hire her own lawyer, at her own expense, to represent her in a workplace arbitration dispute. Today, the Ohio Supreme Court has an opportunity to vindicate Ms. Kolkowski’s right to have her own legal counsel.”

Ms. Kolkowski is a high school guidance counselor in Ashtabula, Ohio. When a dispute arose regarding payment under a supplemental contract, Ms. Kolkowski pursued remedies through the contractual grievance process and requested that the union submit her grievance to arbitration as required by her district’s collective bargaining agreement. Ms. Kolkowski—who is not even a union member—also requested that she be able to hire her own private attorney at her own expense to pursue her claim in the arbitration proceedings rather than rely upon the union’s designated representative—who is not required to be a lawyer. The union refused her request and denied Ms. Kolkowski her right to associate with and speak through her own counsel. The Buckeye Institute sued on behalf of Ms. Kolkowski.

# # #