Through our affiliation with NEA, all UEA members have available to them an extensive professional liability insurance coverage and legal assistance for when they are engaged in educational employment activities at no additional cost other than their membership dues. Contact Northern UniServ Director, Curtis Benjamin if you have any questions.
Overwhelmingly, most meetings are benign and are held to discuss our day to day work or convey information. However, when you are called to a meeting by a supervisor, you have the right to ask if the meeting could in any way lead to disciplinary action or affect your working conditions. If so, then respectfully request for an Association Representative or the UniServ Director to join you. Here are some things to remember:
• Ask regarding the nature of the meeting. Will it be disciplinary? (Weingarten rights)*
• If so, ask to invite the UniServ Director or designated Association representative. (Normal work meetings involving the day-to-day situations or that are intended to provide clarity or direction do not usually require Association representation.)
• If Association involvement isn’t invited or is denied, go to the meeting. Refusal to attend may be considered insubordination. Tell the truth; don’t elaborate beyond knowledge of experience or facts. Call the UniServ director before the meeting, if possible, to discuss, and after to debrief.
• Be professional. Do not overreact. Behave courteously; avoid unprofessional conduct during the meeting. Observe directives . The District may proceed to maintain the integrity of the investigation and to avoid retaliatory concerns; follow such directives as a protection.
• If criminal allegations are made, politely ask to call UEA for more information. Statements made or signed can be used in a criminal proceeding. If there is a criminal charge or law enforcement are involved, avoid speaking to anyone until after speaking to an attorney. Say: I am happy to cooperate as soon as I can speak to my lawyer. If there is a reasonable belief of termination, then your representation would invoke that any statement made will not be turned over to law enforcement (Garrity rights).
*Weingarten Rights The right of employees to have union representation at investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in a 1975 case NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc.. These rights have become known as Weingarten rights. Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee can request representation. The District is not required to inform the employee of his/her Weingarten rights; it is the employee’s responsibility to know and request. However, without a specific provision in agreement or board policy, no Utah legal authority exists supporting the right of an employee to have representation.
UEA Legal Services & the UEA General Counsel works closely with UniServ Directors throughout the state to ensure educator rights are protected and due process is followed. Each UniServ Director has specialized skills and knowledge to assist members. All potential legal matters must first go through the UniServ Director before going to the Office of General Counsel. Should you, as a UEA member, feel as though you need a representative to help or guide you with employment related matters, please contact your UniServ Director. Click here to locate your UniServ.
UEA/NEA Educators Employment Liability Insurance (EEL) (Refer to the UEA website for current information.): Through our affiliation with NEA, all UEA members have available to them an extensive professional liability insurance coverage for when they are engaged in educational employment activities at no additional cost other than their membership dues. The coverage is in excess of any statutory protection, such as that provided for in U.C.A. 52-6-201.
Coverage applies to legal charges arising out of the member’s educational work (“educational employment activities”) in most but not all instances. There are basically four types of Coverage as described in more detail in the Certificate of Insurance:
Educator’s Liability (Civil). Insureds are covered up to $1,000,000 per occurrence for indemnification of civil suits for damages, subject to a $3,000,000 aggregate. Legal Defense Costs are covered for up to $3,000,000 per member per occurrence but this does not apply or include any civil rights issues or civil rights violations, and this coverage is subject to a $9,000,000 aggregate.
Civil rights coverage includes indemnification and defense expenses but is limited to $300,000. Reimbursement of Attorney Fees for Defense of a Criminal Proceeding but only if the member is exonerated of the charges, with the exception of criminal charges of corporal punishment.
With regard to criminal corporal punishment, the member need not be exonerated to receive reimbursement. A plea in abeyance or guilty plea to a lesser charge is NOT an exoneration. (DCFS and CPS proceedings are not covered under this benefit.) Reimbursement of Bail Bond premium up to $1,000, if the member must post a bond as the result of an occurrence arising from their educational employment activities.
Assault – Related Personal Property Damage pays up to $500, but vehicles and school property are excluded (usually covered under another insurance policy.
Other Resources: Utah State Board of Education (USBE) Administrative Rules R277-215 Rebuttable Disciplinary Presumptions for Educator Misconduct R277-515 Utah Educator Standards R277-516 Education Employee Required Reports of Arrests and Required Background Check Policies for Non-licensed Employees