June 19, 2019

Colorado Court of Appeals: Former Employee Failed to Exhaust Administrative Remedies Required by Collective Bargaining Agreement

The Colorado Court of Appeals issued its decision in Brown v. Jefferson County School District No. R-1 on June 21, 2012.

Breach of Contract—Wrongful Termination—Doctrine of Exhaustion of Administrative Remedies—Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Plaintiff Steve Brown appealed the trial court’s order dismissing his breach of contract claim against defendant Jefferson County School District No. R-1 (District). The order was affirmed.

The District terminated Brown’s employment. As a member of the Classified School Employee’s Association (CSEA), Brown was subject to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (Agreement) between the CSEA and the District, which provided a four-step grievance process. The hearing officer in step 3 of the grievance process found that Brown was wrongfully terminated, and stated that the District and the CSEA needed to reach an agreement regarding Brown’s reinstatement. The District rejected the hearing officer’s recommendations, and Brown filed a complaint against the District without completing step 4 of the grievance process. The complaint was dismissed by the trial court.

Brown contended that the court erred in dismissing his complaint, and the Court of Appeals disagreed. The doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies applies to the Agreement, and Brown failed to exhaust his administrative remedies by not completing step 4 of the grievance process before filing his complaint. Therefore, the trial court did not have subject matter jurisdiction over Brown’s claim. The order was affirmed.

Summary and full case available here.

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