Labor Secretary: Teacher 'sickout' investigation complete; work stoppage illegal

Labor Secretary David Dickerson said that while there will be no penalties for the 2019 sickouts, Kentucky law gives the Cabinet discretion to prosecute and penalize participants by $1,000, per person, per day of work stoppage. (Photo: WKYT)
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) – Kentucky Labor Cabinet Secretary David Dickerson announced Friday that the Cabinet’s Office of Inspector General has completed an investigation into whether a 'sickout' protest undertaken by Kentucky teachers during the 2019 session of the General Assembly was an illegal work stoppage.

The investigation concluded 1,074 teachers violated Kentucky law by participating in the protest. A release from Dickerson noted that no penalties will be assessed for the violation, but he also points out that Kentucky law gives the cabinet the discretion to prosecute and fine individuals up to $1,000 per person, per day of the work stoppage.

Dickerson further states that the investigation was a necessary step to ensure that public schools remain open during the upcoming school year and that similar work stoppages do not occur in the future.

“Kentucky law clearly prohibits public-sector employees from engaging in work stoppages that many teachers engaged in during the early months of 2019,” noted Dickerson. “Those teachers who participated in this concerted effort were in clear violation of the law, as noted by the Kentucky Education Association and recently affirmed by a federal court.”

“Let it be clearly understood that the grace extended in this instance will not be extended for future such proven violations,” said Dickerson. “The public cannot tolerate another illegal work stoppage in our schools. It is important for public school teachers to understand the level of seriousness that, by law, the Labor Cabinet must and will give to any future work stoppages. We dedicate ourselves to students and parents across the Commonwealth to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that our schools will remain open.”

Jefferson, Fayette and Madison County school districts all participated in at least one "sickout" day.

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