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PERB Orders Extensive Back Pay Remedy for Failure to Bargain Effects of Classified Layoff

On June 30, 2014, PERB issued its decision in Bellflower Unified School District (2014) PERB Decision No. 2385.  At issue was a district’s decision to close a school and layoff twenty (20) classified employees in 2010.

PERB held that CSEA made a valid demand to bargain effects.  As a result, the district was required to bargain over effects of the layoff decision.  Based on the factual recitation set forth in the decision, the district clearly erred in how it handled the demand to bargain.  It failed to come to the table, even when CSEA provided a detailed proposal on the matter.

PERB’s remedy for the district’s failure was, however, unusually punitive.  In addition to requiring the district to go to the table and complete negotiations over effects of the layoff, PERB imposed a back pay remedy, and a front pay remedy.  While not clear, it appears the back pay remedy runs from the date the district approved the layoffs, in May 2010 through the end of the bargaining process, whenever it is completed.  This represents a significant sum of money.

This case points out the need for employers to acknowledge demands to bargain effects.  The consequences for failing to do so can be severe.  Such demands have become increasingly common as PERB continues to issue decisions which increase employer obligations regarding effects bargaining.  Kingsley Bogard LLP has developed strategies for addressing demands for effects bargaining that can assist school districts in avoiding outcomes like this.

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