Will there be any legal repercussions for teacher ‘sickout’?

Sickout vs. strike: What are KY teachers doing?

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Over 2,000 teachers with Jefferson County Public Schools called out Thursday to protest House Bill 525 in Frankfort.

Under Kentucky state law, public employees like teachers can't strike, but they can call in sick.

That hasn’t stopped at least one lawmaker from calling this a strike, but those involved completely disagree.

“The people of Jefferson County are entitled to know why their teachers are striking and the teachers that didn’t call out are entitled to know why their teachers are striking as well,” Rep. Jason Nemes (R-District 33) said during the committee meeting.

The word strike is being thrown out without cause according to the group KY 120 United, which encouraged teachers to call out. They say this is not a strike.

“It’s not really a strike because our school districts closed, so we didn’t have work today, which obviously allowed us to advocate in Frankfort,” KY 120 organizer Nema Brewer said.

JCPS said the district canceled school because there were not enough substitutes, so everyone got the day off and there will be no repercussions.


“The word strike is going to cause a lot of problems,” employment attorney Samuel G. Hayward said.

In order for it to be deemed a strike, Hayward said there has to be legal action taken.

“You’re going to have to have a judge rule somewhere that this is a strike,” he said.

Hayward said this sickout would have to violate the agreement local unions signed with school districts, or provoke the state to take legal action, for that to even come into play.

Calling the sickout an advocacy day, Brewer said there was no other option.

“This is something we feel like we have to do,” Brewer said. “We don’t want to, but we feel like we have to just to be heard.”

KY 120 said they’ll be watching the process and will take action when necessary. That action, Brewer said, may look different than it did Thursday.

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