Tesser Ryan Blog

Supreme Court finds that Provision in Public School Teachers’ Collective Bargaining Agreement Violates the Establishment Clause

By Lewis Tesser and Timothy Nolen

Recognizing an apparent split between the Appellate Divisions, a recent decision from the Nassau County Supreme Court demonstrates how public policy and constitutional considerations affect whether courts will compel arbitration. The case concerned issues of constitutional law, alternative dispute resolution (ADR), administrative law, labor law and civil practice.

The case, Matter of Board of Education of the Mineola Union Free School District v. Mineola Teachers Association, 7359/11, NYLJ 1202520082920 (Sup. Ct. Nassau County, October 7, 2011), involved a provision in a collective bargaining agreement which provided that teachers may use up to five days of paid leave for religious holidays which they observe, separate from personal and sick days. The School District sought to permanently stay (block) arbitration of the provision, arguing that the provision violated the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution. The Court agreed with the School District, noting that the provision rewarded members of the Teacher’s Association who claim to be religiously observant. The Court did, however, note that the Appellate Divisions were apparently split on the issue of whether such a five-day allowance would violate the Establishment Clause. Nevertheless, the Court determined that the controlling precedent in the Second Department required the Court to find the five-day allowance unconstitutional and therefore stayed arbitration.

At Tesser, Ryan & Rochman, LLP, our attorneys have decades of experience handling alternative dispute resolution matters. We can help clients navigate the ADR process in order to resolve disputes in our clients’ interest.

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