Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Lawsuit over employee rights may impact California

A civil suit currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court could potentially have a significant impact for public employees in California and several other states. The suit is over employee rights and whether public workers such as teachers should be required to pay union dues or is this a violation of First Amendment rights. A similar suit filed a few years ago ended in a deadlock after the death of Justice Scalia.

The suit was filed by a public worker against American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, Council 31. In this particular state -- as in California and several other states -- public-sector employees are required to support the union regardless of their personal views. These monies are then used by the unions to help persuade and inform the opinions of lawmakers. Because the forced contributions result in the union having substantial cash reserves, it is capable of effectively blocking any proposed changes to policies or salaries.

This forced participation in union membership is seen by opponents as a form of tyranny and supplants employees' rights to exercise their own opinions in important policy matters. The main issue is whether this requirement for public workers is a clear violation of either an individual's or an employee's rights. If the Supreme Court rules in the favor of the plaintiff, it could have far-reaching implications in every state that still has public-sector unionization.

While the idea of unionizing public workers was intended to ensure that workers' rights were protected, there are many opponents who believe that it results in higher taxes for citizens and removes an employee's right of freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has only just started hearing the case, and it will likely be sometime before a decision is rendered. Any time residents believe that a situation exists that violates employee rights, they are entitled to seek a remedy. An experienced employment law attorney can provide advice and guidance as to the best avenues to pursue justice in a particular situation.

Source:, "What Janus v. AFSCME could mean for California", Jon Coupal, Feb. 24, 2018

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