The Oklahoma Public Employees Association (OPEA) has filed a lawsuit in Cleveland County district court alleging that Cleveland County resident Dean Balmer, a former OPEA employee, breached code of ethics and confidentiality policies that prohibited the use, dissemination and retention of OPEA’s proprietary membership information. OPEA also alleges that federal and state copyright infringement occurred, claiming information was wrongfully obtained and utilized to solicit OPEA members in an effort a new association in direct competition for OPEA’s current state corrections employees’ membership.
“Our purpose at OPEA is to represent the rights of our members,” said Sterling Zearley, OPEA Executive Director. “Part of that duty as an Association includes protecting our membership’s confidential information. We believe that information has been compromised and we are taking the legal action required to see that the individuals who are responsible are held accountable.”
Also named in the lawsuit are McClain County residents Glenn Coleman and William Weldon. Former OPEA board members, they are alleged to have received and utilized confidential and proprietary information from Balmer during his employment at OPEA to actively recruit members for OCP. Balmer, Coleman and Weldon are currently employed by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections at the Joseph Harp Correction Center in Lexington, OK.
OPEA is seeking an injunction and damages including, but not limited to, a breach of confidential trade secrets, copyright infringement and compromised business relationships.
“It is unfortunate the Association has been forced to take this type of action against these individuals,” said Zearley. “However, our members expect their Association to take every step necessary to recover and protect their private information and to prevent the use of that information for any reason other than the one provided by the member.”
“Each member of the Association will be receiving a letter providing specific details about the lawsuit,” said Zearley. “We believe every member has a right to know the circumstances that prompted our actions. We also want to provide the assurance that OPEA is fighting for their rights and privacy.”
Read the lawsuit in its entirety by clicking here.