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AEA lawsuit: officials not following law when considering teachers’ injury compensation

The lawsuit claims the Board of Adjustment has a different, unfair workers’ comp process for teachers and education employees.

The logo of the Alabama Education Association.

The Alabama Education Association on Friday filed a lawsuit on behalf of four education employees, alleging that the Alabama State Board of Adjustment and the Alabama State Department of Education are failing to follow established guidelines for worker’s compensation and are instead subjecting teachers and education employees to an arbitrary system. 

The lawsuit, filed in Montgomery Circuit Court, names Board of Adjustment members Secretary of State John Merrill, Finance Director Bill Poole, Auditor Jim Zeigler and Treasurer Young Boozer and also names state Superintendent Eric Mackey. 

The AEA claims in its filing that the BOA is violating state laws by allowing Mackey and ALSDE to determine workers’ compensation cases. It also claims that the BOA is violating the laws by not following standard workers’ compensation guidelines, as required by the state legislature in “authorizing legislation” passed in 1994.

Neither the BOA nor ALSDE had issued a response to the lawsuit late on Friday. 

The lawsuit claims that teachers and education employees are being treated differently than all other state employees, who have their cases decided by the BOA instead of by their employers. 

In the case of teachers, when they submit a compensation claim, the BOA forwards that claim to Mackey, who passes it off to “subordinates,” who make arbitrary decisions on the amount of compensation, if any, to be awarded, the lawsuit claims. That decision is then sent back to the BOA, which essentially rubber stamps it, according to the suit. 

“There is no justification, in law or fact, for subjecting teachers and other education employees to an arbitrary system for injuries,” the AEA lawsuit reads. “There is no justification, in law or fact, for the defendants failure to comply with applicable statutory requirements.”

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The lawsuit doesn’t seek compensation for the plaintiffs. Instead, it asks the court to instruct the BOA and ALSDE to follow established law and comply with the Alabama Workers Compensation Act.

Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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