Julie Carr Smyth
Julie covers government and politics from Ohio.
jcarrsmythjsmyth@ap.org

Ex-campus bookstore worker continues job fight in Ohio court

August 18, 2021 GMT
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Andre Brady poses for a photo outside the Barnes & Noble in Youngstown, Ohio. The fired bookstore employee continued the yearslong battle for his job in appellate court on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016. His employer and other public universities were under pressure to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Andre Brady poses for a photo outside the Barnes & Noble in Youngstown, Ohio. The fired bookstore employee continued the yearslong battle for his job in appellate court on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016. His employer and other public universities were under pressure to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Andre Brady poses for a photo outside the Barnes & Noble in Youngstown, Ohio. The fired bookstore employee continued the yearslong battle for his job in appellate court on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016. His employer and other public universities were under pressure to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Andre Brady poses for a photo outside the Barnes & Noble in Youngstown, Ohio. The fired bookstore employee continued the yearslong battle for his job in appellate court on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016. His employer and other public universities were under pressure to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
FILE - In this Jan. 21, 2021, file photo, Andre Brady poses for a photo outside the Barnes & Noble in Youngstown, Ohio. The fired bookstore employee continued the yearslong battle for his job in appellate court on Wednesday, Aug. 18, 2021. Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016. His employer and other public universities were under pressure to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A fired college bookstore employee in Ohio continued the yearslong battle for his job Wednesday in appellate court, where judges vigorously questioned both sides on details of the convoluted case.

Andre Brady lost his union job as a sales manager at the Youngstown State University bookstore in 2016, as his employer and other public universities were being pressured by then-Republican Gov. John Kasich to reduce costs and pass the savings along to students.

Brady’s lawyer, Renny Tyson, told the 10th District Court of Appeals that his client to this day has been denied his right to a decision on Youngstown State’s claim that its bookstore was privatized for legitimate economic reasons.

Rather, before the state personnel board decided Brady’s dispute, the university did something complicated. It rescinded its abolishment of his position, called him briefly back to work, then let him go for lack of work. A ruling on whether the university needed to erase the job for “reasons of economy” was never made.

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“The rescission was a sham,” Tyson argued. “When they did the rescission, there was no way to reinstate him, because the position had been eliminated.”

“How was that not bad faith?” Judge Terri Jamison asked Joseph Rosenthal, the assistant attorney general representing the university.

“There was no job for him to come back to,” Rosenthal replied. He said Youngstown State wanted to “bring finality to the situation,” as the back pay owed to Brady continued to accrue.

Jamison pressed Rosenthal on that point in the courtroom in Columbus, questioning that some comparable position couldn’t have been found for Brady. He said he was told no other sales manager position existed.

Tyson acknowledged that Brady never took the back pay he was offered, which Youngstown State points to as evidence it dealt with him fairly.

Brady has argued that he believed it would jeopardize his case and his ability to get a different job at the university, where he had worked for 19 years, since he was a student there.

But Judges Betsy Schuster and William Klatt repeatedly noted that there was no actual job for Brady to return to. Tyson said Brady could have been offered another of the union openings at the university.

Klatt also questioned the university calling Brady back only to fire him again.

“Why shouldn’t we be concerned about Youngstown State’s motive, and how they did this?” he asked. Rosenthal said motive is not a factor for the court.

The only issue at hand was an arcane legal one: Whether Brady’s initial case before the Ohio State Personnel Board of Review can be considered “adjudicated,” or formally decided, as opposed to simply being resolved or closed.

A lower court said it was not adjudicated, meaning it did not have the jurisdiction to fully review the facts of his dismissal. Tyson said accepting the university’s decision to reverse its abolishment of Brady’s position should be considered an adjudication. Rosenthal disagreed, suggesting the rescission was a form of settling the case without addressing its merits.

Klatt said a decision is expected soon.