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Matter of Board of Educ. v. Ambach – Case Brief Summary (New York)

In Matter of Board of Educ. v. Ambach (70 NY2d 501 [1987]), the Court of Appeals recognized that:

"as a general proposition, when an employer and a union enter into a collective bargaining agreement that creates a grievance procedure, an employee subject to the agreement may not sue the employer directly for breach of that agreement but must proceed, through the union, in accordance with the contract. Unless the contract provides otherwise, only when the union fails in its duty of fair representation can the employee go beyond the agreed procedure and litigate a contract issue directly against the employer." (Board of Educ. v. Ambach, supra at 508 .)

The Court emphasized further that: "only when a union has failed to represent an employee fairly--effectively depriving the employee of full use of the agreed procedures--does concern for employees' rights require that they be allowed to pursue grievances beyond the contractual mechanism." (Board of Educ. v. Ambach, supra at 509.)