How to File an Unfair Practice Charge

PERB'S Jurisdiction

The Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) is the State agency responsible for enforcing the collective bargaining laws covering employees of public schools and community colleges (Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA) Government Code section 3540 et seq.); State civil service (Ralph C. Dills Act (Dills Act) Government Code section 3512 et seq.); the University of California, California State University and Hastings College of Law (Higher Education Employer-Employee Relations Act (HEERA) Government Code section 3560 et seq.); cities, counties, and special districts (Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (MMBA) Government Code section 3500 et seq.); trial court employees (Trial Court Employment Protection and Governance Act (Trial Court Act) Govt. Code section 71600 et seq., and Trial Court Interpreter Employment and Labor Relations Act (Court Interpreter Act) Govt. Code section 71800 et seq.); and supervisory employees of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Los Angeles County Transportation Authority Transit Employer-Employee Relations Act (TEERA) Public Utilities Code section 99560 et seq.). PERB does not enforce laws that affect employees of private enterprise or the federal government, nor do the laws enforced by PERB protect against all types of unfairness that may occur at the workplace.

What is an Unfair Practice?

Following are examples of unlawful employer conduct:

  • coercive questioning of employees regarding their union activity;
  • threatening employees or discriminating against employees because they participated in union activities;
  • promising benefits to employees if they refuse to participate in union activity.

Definitions of unlawful employer conduct are found for Dills, EERA and HEERA in Government Code sections 3519, 3543.5, and 3571, respectively, for MMBA in Government Code section 3509(b) and PERB Regulation 32603; for the Trial Court Act in Govt. Code section 71630 et seq., including section 71635.1; for the Court Interpreter Act in Govt. Code section 71800 et seq., including section 71822; and for TEERA in Public Utilities Code section 99563.7.

Following are examples of unlawful employee organization conduct:

• threatening employees if they refuse to join the union;

• disciplining members for filing an unfair practice charge against the union;

• failing to fairly represent an employee in dealings with an employer.

Definitions of unlawful employee organization conduct are found for Dills, EERA and HEERA in Government Code sections 3519.5, 3543.6 and 3571.1, respectively, for MMBA in Government Code section 3509(b) and PERB Regulation 32604; for the Trial Court Act in Govt. Code section 71630 et seq., including section 71635.1; for the Court Interpreter Act in Govt. Code section 71800 et seq., including section 71822 and for TEERA in Public Utilities Code section 99563.8.

Filing the Unfair Practice Charge

If you believe that an unfair practice has been committed, you may file a charge by mail or in person at one of PERB's three regional offices. An unfair practice charge may also be filed by fax (fax numbers for each office are shown below) or by e-mail (e-filing addresses also shown below). The charge must be filed within six (6) months of the occurrence of the conduct that you contend is an unfair practice. Unfair Practice Charge forms are available on this web site or by telephoning or visiting a PERB regional office.

The charge must contain the following information:

1. the "charging party's" name, address and telephone number;

2. the name, address and telephone number of the party you claim committed the unfair practice (the "respondent");

3. the section(s) of the Government or Public Utilities Code you believe have been violated;

4. the section(s) of PERB's regulation(s) and/or for MMBA, Trial Court Act or Court Interpreter Act, the local rule(s) alleged to have been violated;

5. a clear and concise statement (including dates, names, places, etc.) of the conduct which you assert constitutes an unfair practice.

If you have procedural questions you may contact a PERB Board Agent at any of the three regional offices. Beyond that, if you require legal assistance and advice, please contact your attorney, representative or the County Bar Association for attorney referral services.

Service

If you wish to file an unfair practice charge, you must comply with the following service requirements. The original plus one copy of the charge with the original proof of service is filed with the appropriate PERB office (PERB Regulation 32075). A copy of the completed unfair practice charge and proof of service form must be served on the party being charged (respondent). A proof of service form must be attached to each copy of the charge to prove that a copy of the charge has been served on the respondent. Proof of Service forms are available on the web site and at each regional office.

1. If the respondent is a public school or community college employer (EERA), service of the Charge and Proof of Service must be on the superintendent or designated representative of the district or school board.

2. If the respondent is the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University or the Directors of Hastings College of the Law (HEERA), service must be to the following, respectively:

Office of the General Counsel
Regents of the University of California
1111 Franklin Street, 8th Floor
Oakland, CA 94612

Office of the General Counsel
California State University
401 Golden Shore, 4th Floor
Long Beach, CA 90802-4210

General Counsel
Hastings College of the Law
200 McAllister Street
San Francisco, CA 94102-4978

3. If the respondent is the State of California (Dills Act), service must be on:

Chief Counsel
Department of Human Resources
1515 S Street, North Building, Suite 400
Sacramento, CA 95811-4124

4. If the respondent is a local public agency as defined by Government Code section 3501(c) and PERB Regulation 32016(a) (MMBA), service must be on the individual designated to receive service for the agency or the chief executive officer.

5. If the respondent is a trial court employer as defined in Govt. Code section 71601(k) (Trial Court Act) or 71801(k) (Court Interpreter Act), service must be on the individual designated to receive service or the executive officer.

6. If the respondent is a regional committee employer as defined in Govt. Code section 71801(h) and 71807 (Court Interpreter Act), service must be on the individual designated to receive service or the executive officer.

7. If the respondent is the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, service must be on a person authorized to act on behalf of the employer.

8. If the respondent is an employee organization, service must be on the individual designated to receive service, the president, or officer of the organization.

Review of the Charge

Once the unfair practice charge is properly filed, a Board agent will be assigned to review the charge and determine whether a complaint should be issued. He or she may contact you, the respondent and other individuals who may have information about the charge.

If the charge does not contain enough information, the Board agent will give you an opportunity to provide more information or to file an amended charge. If you fail to provide the necessary information, your charge will be dismissed. After all information has been received, your charge may still be dismissed if it fails to state a prima facie case (sufficient factual allegations to constitute the elements of specific violation(s)). The dismissal, containing a statement of the reason(s), will be mailed to you and to the respondent.

Appeal of a Dismissal

If your charge is dismissed, you may file a written appeal with the Board itself. The original and 5 copies of the appeal and proof of service must be filed with the Board in the headquarters office within 20 days after the charge was dismissed. A proof of service form must accompany each copy of a document served upon a party.

Issuance of a Complaint

If, after investigating your charge, the Board agent concludes that there are enough facts alleged that an unfair practice may have been committed, he or she will issue a Complaint. The case will then proceed to an informal settlement conference.

Informal Conference

The informal conference is an effort to settle an unfair practice complaint by mutual agreement between the charging party and the respondent. An informal conference usually is conducted at a PERB regional office by a Board agent other than the one who investigated the charge. The Board agent assists the charging party and respondent in reaching a settlement agreeable to both parties. No records are made and neither party is forced to accept a settlement. If a settlement cannot be reached a formal hearing is scheduled.

Helpful Hints

• Before the conference, think about the merits of your case and decide what results would satisfy you.

• Come with an open mind and be prepared to enter into a meaningful discussion.

• Remember: if a compromise is reached at the Informal Conference, the case will be closed and no further action will be required of the parties.

Formal Hearing

A formal hearing is conducted by an administrative law judge (ALJ) who has not previously participated in the case. A formal hearing is like a court trial. Formal records are kept, and the ALJ, after taking testimony under oath from all relevant witnesses, issues a proposed written decision based on the evidence and legal argument presented by both parties. The parties to a formal hearing have the right to be represented by legal counsel and may request PERB to issue subpoenas for witnesses and documents. If you require legal assistance and advice, please contact your legal representative or the nearest County Bar Association for attorney referral services. A proposed decision is binding on the parties unless it is appealed to the Board itself within 20 days.

Helpful Hints

• The charging party must present evidence that proves the allegations contained in the complaint.

• Plan your case well in advance of the hearing. Know the questions you or your representative will ask and in what order your witnesses will be called.

Appeals

If you wish to appeal the decision made by the administrative law judge, you may appeal to the Public Employment Relations Board itself. To appeal, you must file with the Board a written statement of exceptions. The statement of exceptions must explain the specific issues of procedure, fact, law or rationale with which you disagree, and it must identify the page or part of the decision to which exception is taken. You must prepare a proof of service form and serve a copy of the appeal on the other party to the case. The statement of exceptions and supporting brief (with proof of service) must be filed with the Board in the Headquarters Office (Sacramento) within 20 days following the date of service of the proposed decision.

Contact information for PERB's Offices:

Sacramento Regional Office
1031 18th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811-4124
(916) 322-3198
Fax: (916) 327-6377
PERBe-file.SRO@perb.ca.gov

San Francisco Regional Office
1330 Broadway, Suite 1532
Oakland, CA 94612-2514
(510) 622-1016
Fax: (510) 622-1027
PERBe-file.SFRO@perb.ca.gov

 Los Angeles Regional Office
700 N. Central Ave., Suite 200
Glendale, CA 91203
(818) 551-2822
Fax: (818) 551-2820
PERBe-file.LARO@perb.ca.gov

 Appeals Office
1031 18th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811-4124
(916) 322-8231
Fax: (916) 327-7960
PERBe-file.Appeals@perb.ca.gov