CaseLadley v. PSEA

Case Status

The case is currently before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.


Case Details

Jane Ladley and Christopher Meier v. Pennsylvania State Education Association

The Fairness Center represents schoolteachers Jane Ladley and Chris Meier, the targets of an illegal public union scheme to block nonunion employees from sending money to certain charities and to funnel money to the union’s favorite private charities.

Ms. Ladley recently retired after teaching for 25 years, most recently at Penn London Elementary School in Chester County, Pennsylvania. Mr. Meier has taught AP Economics and AP History courses at Penn Manor High School in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania for the last ten years.  Neither Ms. Ladley nor Mr. Meier are members of the Pennsylvania State Education Association (“PSEA”), and neither Ms. Ladley nor Mr. Meier have paid a fee for its representation—which they do not want. But recently, the PSEA secured, in separate agreements with their respective school districts, the contractual authority to extract nonmember fees from teachers like Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier. Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier objected to payment of the fees on religious grounds.

As religious objectors to union membership and to payment of union fees, Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier are entitled to certain legal protections, including the opportunity to redirect their fee—otherwise owed to the union—to a charitable organization. For this purpose, both Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier selected IRS-approved charities; Ms. Ladley selected a local educational organization, and Mr. Meier selected a national charity providing free legal advice and representation to teachers like himself. Under the law, their money is automatically withheld and deposited into a separate account while the PSEA processes the selection.

Now, the PSEA is telling Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier that it has a “policy” against allowing religious objectors to send their money to charities that they choose. According to the PSEA, Ms. Ladley’s educational charity was too “political,” and Mr. Meier’s charity was a “conflict of interest” because it represented teachers in separate, unrelated lawsuits against the PSEA. 

Unfortunately, the PSEA’s policy also takes advantage of a loophole in the law to ensure that Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier have no voice in this matter. The statute protecting religious objectors from having to pay dues or fees to the union requires that the charity selected by the objector be “agreed upon” by the union. But the law does not institute a procedure or deadline for reaching agreement with the union.

The PSEA is content to watch Ms. Ladley’s and Mr. Meier’s money automatically accrue in an interest-bearing escrow account while it waits for them to give in. 

Ms. Ladley and Mr. Meier are filing suit to expose the policy, to ask that the court declare the PSEA’s internal policy illegal, and to stop the PSEA from using the policy to indefinitely hold their money.

Get Updates on This Case
Case Documents
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September 15, 2014
Order Staying Proceedings
October 11, 2017
Plaintiffs' Notice of Appeal
November 28, 2018
Appellee's Brief
April 26, 2019

Case Status

The case is currently before the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania.