A federal judge has ordered a private French language school in Portland to reinstate a teacher who was terminated last year after she supported a union campaign. Portland French School will offer French citizen Patricia Raclot her job back, and will renew legal work on the H-1B visa she needs in order to be employed legally in the United States. Raclot will also receive back pay.
The decision resolves a set of unfair labor practice charges that were filed by the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)-Oregon in protest of management misconduct that tainted a union election held at the school. The April 16, 2010 election resulted in a 12-12 loss for the union among teachers, but that result was set aside in light of the labor law violations, and the union could ask for a re-run election at any time. AFT organizer Eben Pullman said the group will wait at least until Raclot is returned.
Last October, Raclot refused an employer offer of two years salary if she would settle out of court and give up her right to reinstatement.
Federal Administrative Law Judge William G. Kocal presided over a four-day hearing on the charges in October. In his written decision dated Dec. 27, Kocal found that school management had committed numerous unfair labor practices — including forbidding employees from discussing work conditions; warning that the union would bring “stigma” to the school; predicting school closure; and threatening unspecified reprisals against employees if they supported a union.