Standing Up for Respect: JESPA’s Fight for Due Process and Employee Rights


Have you ever felt unfairly treated at work? Maybe you’ve been excluded from critical meetings, subjected to unwarranted critique with no opportunity for rebuttal, or pressured by management in ways that make you uncomfortable. You might have felt compelled to extend your workday into your personal time, responding to your supervisor’s texts and emails after hours. Perhaps you sense that you’re not reaching your full potential due to a lack of professional development opportunities. Or, despite consistently going the extra mile, you find that your efforts don’t translate into the recognition, job stability, compensation, or benefits you rightfully deserve. These experiences are not uncommon among ESPs, mirroring concerns highlighted in our bargaining survey. Respect in the workplace remains a paramount issue for ESPs this year.

Recently, we’ve noticed an alarming trend in how due process rights are being overlooked for members. The poor treatment of Education Support Professionals, particularly being called into meetings for investigations or reprimanded for minor mistakes, oversights, or performance issues, is increasingly prevalent. This shift toward punitive actions without proper due process is a significant concern.

In a decisive action aimed at protecting the rights of its members, the JESPA Executive Board, made up of Education Support Professionals from across the school district, has filed a grievance against Jeffco in regards to these due process violations.  You can read the grievance here.

A recent disciplinary letter that caught the JESPA leadership’s attention which demanded employees acknowledge “receipt of this communication, discussion of its contents and that you have been afforded due process.” The union advises all employees not to sign any such documents without first consulting with a JESPA Building Representative or JESPA Grievance Representative to understand fully their rights. 

Our experience has shown that numerous actions taken against our members in recent years have lacked due process and just cause. Time and again, JESPA has successfully challenged and overturned unwarranted disciplines and terminations. This track record underscores the importance of being informed and supported by your union representatives, ensuring that your rights are protected and upheld in every situation.

The core of the grievance lies in the fundamental aspects of due process — a principle ensuring fairness and justice in all legal and administrative proceedings. Due process guarantees that employees are treated equitably in matters of disciplinary actions, termination, and other significant decisions impacting their rights or interests. Critical elements of due process include:

  • Notice: The requirement for employees to be informed in advance about actions or proceedings that might affect their rights or interests.
  • Opportunity to be Heard: Affording employees the chance to present their side of the story or evidence in response to allegations against them.
  • Impartial Decision-Maker: Ensuring the adjudicator is neutral and unbiased, with decisions based solely on facts and evidence.
  • Right to Representation: The right for employees to seek representation by a union representative, attorney, or advocate during proceedings.
  • Timely Resolution: The need for proceedings to be conducted promptly, avoiding unnecessary delays.
  • Appeal or Review Mechanism: Providing employees with opportunities to appeal or seek review of decisions made against them. In our case, this is through the grievance process, but could also include court proceedings.
  • Documentation: Maintaining transparency and accountability through the documentation of all relevant information, evidence, and decisions.
  • Consistency: Treating similar cases in a similar manner, ensuring no arbitrary distinctions or unequal treatment.
  • Compliance with Laws and Policies: Adherence to relevant laws, regulations, and organizational policies that govern employment practices.

By urging employees to sign forms that could potentially waive these rights, the district appears to be undermining the very foundation of due process. The union’s grievance calls for immediate rectification of these practices, emphasizing that there is never a justifiable reason for an employee to agree that the district has met due process without a thorough and impartial review.

This grievance is not just a stand against the specific incident of coercive documentation but a broader call to uphold the integrity of due process within the district.  JESPA is committed to ensuring that every employee’s rights to fairness are protected and upheld, in line with the principles outlined in the Jeffco Thrives 2025 plan and beyond.

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