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Battle v. District of Columbia

Court of Appeals of Columbia District

December 12, 2013

Johnnie P. BATTLE, et al., Appellants,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, Appellee.

Argued June 4, 2013.

Donald M. Temple, Washington, DC, for appellants.

Richard S. Love, Senior Assistant Attorney General, with whom Irvin B. Nathan, Attorney General for the District of Columbia, Todd S. Kim, Solicitor General, and Donna M. Murasky, Deputy Solicitor General, were on the brief, for appellee.

Before GLICKMAN and McLEESE, Associate Judges, and REID, Senior Judge.

McLEESE, Associate Judge:

Plaintiffs are former public-school teachers who filed a lawsuit against the District of Columbia, claiming entitlement to retroactive pay raises and other relief. The trial court dismissed their complaint for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and plaintiffs appealed. We affirm.

I.

Plaintiffs retired from the District of Columbia Public Schools (" DCPS" ) between

Page 1037

October 1, 2007, and June 2, 2010. On June 2, 2010, the Washington Teachers Union and DCPS entered into a new collective-bargaining agreement. The new agreement provided retroactive pay raises reaching back to October 1, 2007, to " all [Washington Teachers Union] bargaining unit members who were separated or retired as a result of the November 2009 Reduction-in-Force." Plaintiffs were not affected by the November 2009 reduction-in-force.

Plaintiffs assert that DCPS violated the District of Columbia Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act (" CMPA" ), D.C.Code § 1-601.01 et seq. (2012 Repl.), by giving retroactive pay raises to some, but not all, former teachers for work performed between October 1, 2007, and June 2, 2010. Count I of the complaint alleges that the pay raises violated provisions of the CMPA that plaintiffs interpret as requiring that District employees receive " equal pay for equal work." D.C.Code §§ 1-611.03(a)(1), 1-611.11(d), 1-617.17(a) (2012 Repl.).[1] Count II alleges that the pay raises violated a provision of the CMPA providing that labor unions " shall be responsible for representing the interests of all [employees in the unit they represent] without discrimination and without regard to membership in the labor organization." D.C.Code § 1-617.11(a) (2012 Repl.).

II.

The trial court determined that plaintiffs' complaint alleges unfair labor practices and that the District of Columbia Public Employee Relations Board (" PERB" ) therefore has exclusive primary jurisdiction over the case. In this appeal, the plaintiffs have not disputed the trial court's characterization of their claims as alleging unfair labor practices. We therefore assume, but do not decide, that the alleged statutory violations would constitute unfair labor practices under the CMPA.[2]

Page 1038

Plaintiffs have asserted only one theory as to why the Superior Court has jurisdiction over their claims: that the CMPA does not give the PERB jurisdiction over this action because the plaintiffs are retired employees and " the cause of action arose after ...


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