Outside Legal Counsel PLC

How Can a Judge Order CMU Professors Back to Work?

For Immediate Release | Aug 25, 2011

On Monday, August 22, 2011, the Honorable Paul A Chamberlin issued a court order against the protesting faculty members requiring the professors to return to work based upon a complaint filed by Central Michigan University.

"Michigan law has several tools available to resolve disputes that do not involve money damages," states Philip L. Ellison, an attorney and CMU MBA graduate. "Here, the parties are disputing whether and to what extent can public employees protest against a public employer like CMU. There is a difference between a protest and a strike under the law."

Under a Michigan law enacted in 1947, a public employee shall not strike and a public school employer shall not institute a lockout. MCL 423.202.

So what is with this issued order?
Judge Chamberlain issued a temporary restraining order.

A temporary restraining order ("TRO") is a court order that requires another to refrain from doing something until a hearing can be held on the matter. These types of court orders are enforceable by police and the sheriff's department along with the Court being able to hold violators in contempt of court. A TRO is valid for a maximum of 14 days. Such an order can be issued without notice only if it clearly appears that immediate and irreparable injury will result.

When the TRO is issued, the Court will also require the disputing parties to appear in Court within 14 days to determine whether a more lasting order should be issued, known as a preliminary injunction. A preliminary injunction is a court order designed to keep status quo in place until the court can have normal proceedings to adjudicate the legal dispute. A preliminary injunction requires any trial to be completed within six months and a decision rendered by the judge within 56 days of completion of the trial.

After the trial, a Court may then issue a permanent injunction. A permanent injunction is essentially a permanent order that requires the party to refrain from doing something in perpetuity. These orders are quite rare and are normally reserved for situations like invaliding an unconstitutional law.

So what has happened at CMU?
A hearing will be held on Friday, August 26 to determine if a preliminary injunction is needed while CMU and the Faculty Association argue about whether the Faculty Association's and its members' protests violate state law against public employee strikes.

Philip L. Ellison, MBA, JD, Esq is an attorney, business counselor, and civil litigator with Michigan-based Outside Legal Counsel PLC. Visit his online profile at www.olcplc.com