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NEAs 1 Million Educator Liability Insurance

NEAs 1 Million Educator Liability Insurance

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Published by: despa on Mar 26, 2013
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NEA's $1 million Educator Liability Insurance
Steve Pieroni, WEAC Attorney, August, 2011
The District's liability coverageRemember, under the district liability coverage, the district is the insured, not theemployee. The District's legal counsel will represent the district and an employee if there is no conflict of interest between the legal representation of the district and theemployee.But what happens if the district decides to settle a case and it is not in the best interestof the employee or if the district agrees that the employee acted contrary to theemployer's direction?2) State statute on liability of public employeesThe answer to the above question is found in state statute. The key phrase here is"acts committed while carrying out duties as an officer or employee and the jury orthe court finds that the defendant was acting within the scope of employment"The term "within the scope of employment" may have different meaning to anemployer and an employee. The employer may say that the employee was not actingwithin the scope of his or her employment but the employee believes he/she actedwithin the scope of his/her employment. Resolution of this difference of opinion willdirectly affect whether the member receives coverage and by whom the employeewill be represented.In addition, the District may take disciplinary action against the employee/memberfor alleged conduct that is disputed by the employee. In these circumstances theemployer may refuse to defend the employee's actions.If the district and its insurer assert that the employee's actions were outside the scopeof his/her employment, the member may not be covered by the District's liabilitycoverage or may be required to have different legal representation paid by theemployer. Without a quality liability insurance program through Associationmembership, the employee could be left defending him/herself or have to accept legalrepresentation provided by someone who has previously disavowed the employee'sconduct.
3) Beyond the liability insurance policyIt is valuable to have attorneys retained by the union to be your advocate. TheDistrict's attorneys represent the District's interests which at times may not coincidewith yours. In addition to liability insurance WEAC offers significant support andprotection when teachers are accused of wrongdoing in the workplace. The union hasa proven track record of supporting our members when they are accused of conductthat may implicate financial liability.4) Can you trust that state law remains the same?State law is changing very rapidly. Can we really count on the current statute toremain the same? Many other protections for public employees including teachers areunder attack. WEAC is your voice in the legislature, looking out for your interestsevery day.5) State statute and district insurance do not cover criminal charges.WEAC provides an insurance policy and separate funding for defense against allegedcriminal conduct. Employees receive favorable coverage designed to protect theirlegitimate interests. The NEA insurance policy also provides money towards bailbonds, assault related property damage, and coverage for liability when an employeeprovide emergency first aid.6) Union membership means far more protection than just the liability policy.Our union offers assistance and representation from experienced staff and attorneys ina variety of situations including:• Discipline/terminationViolations of Board policiesFamily and Medical Leave ActUnemployment CompensationWorkers CompensationAge DiscriminationDiscrimination against union membership or activityProtection of vested rights like sick leave banksProtection of WRS retirement benefitsLicense restoration and related issues with the DPI7) Union membership provides free and discounted legal services in other areas.The NEA referral program includes two 30-minute free consultations during eachyear. Your spouse or dependant child are eligible to utilize the consultation. Inaddition, a 30% discount for legal expenses related to non-employment areas such aswills and estates, real estate, domestic relations, consumer protection, traffic violationsis provided.

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