Three-way Member Protection Program
1. A member is sued in the course of performing educational
duties or is charged with a criminal offense
TFA members are protected against lawsuits and criminal charges arising from activities that occur in the scope of their employment by our Educators Employment Liability (EEL) policy. Members receive this policy free of charge by virtue of their membership in TFA. The coverage includes:
If a member believes a lawsuit may be filed or criminal charges brought, he or she should call 877-ASK-TSTA and ask to speak with the Claims Administrator in the TSTA Legal Division. The following incidents should be reported immediately:
2. A member brings a complaint or grievance against
TFA receives over one hundred complaints annually from members who bring a complaint or grievance against their employer. TFA's goal is always to resolve a grievance at the campus level. A member who has an employment-related problem should first contact a local chapter officer. Most local chapters have trained grievance representatives who will assist the member in resolving the problem. If one is not available, members should contact the TFA state office. Many inquiries about employment-related problems develop into formal grievances. Of course, not all complaints have merit or are violations of law, in which case TFA reserves the right to deny or discontinue grievance representation.
When a grievance is not resolved and legal issues remain, a member may apply for legal representation through the Unified Legal Services Program (ULSP), which is available to TFA members pursuant to our affiliation with the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) and the National Education Association (NEA). Legal action is approved or denied on the basis of a careful analysis of the facts and the legal issues involved, the importance of the dispute for the individual, and the importance of the dispute for the profession. When the General Counsel approves legal action, an attorney is assigned at no cost to the member. If a member obtains a monetary award or settlement as a result of the legal action, TSTA may reserve the right to recover funds from the award or settlement to help defray the costs of legal fees and expenses.
On average, TFA spends over $70,000 per year on fees and expenses related to lawsuits. Some individual lawsuits have cost in excess of $100,000 by the time they were completed. In the final analysis, we do not relish filing lawsuits. They are expensive and emotionally draining for everyone involved. However, sometimes the issues involved in a case are so important to our members and to the profession that legal action is mandated.
3. The employer brings charges against a TFA member
TFA handles charges brought against a member by an employer similar to the manner in which we handle grievances. We will assist a member in preparing his or her response to the charges. We will also typically represent a member in any hearing pursuant to the charges. A member who is wrongfully terminated may apply for legal representation under the procedure described above in Part 2. In certain circumstances, a member accused of wrongdoing in the performance of his or her professional duties may also need to file for assistance pursuant to our Educators Employment Liability policy. This would be true, for example, in a situation where an employer brought termination charges against a member for fiscal misconduct, where the local district attorney may be filing criminal charges.
(For a complete brochure on our protection plan, contact the state office.)
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