Despite informing both management and union of religious objections to union membership and financial support, employer seized money from worker’s paycheck for union
San Francisco, CA (November 10, 2022) – Thomas Ross, a San Francisco-based security officer employed by Allied Universal, has hit union officials affiliated with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and his employer with two sets of federal charges for forcing him to join and financially support the union after he told both parties his religious beliefs forbid union support. He is receiving free legal aid from National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
Ross filed both federal discrimination charges, which will now be investigated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and unfair labor practice charges, which will be handled by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).
Ross is a Christian and opposes union affiliation on religious grounds. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits unions and employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of religion. Title VII thus forbids forcing individuals to fund or support a union, the activities of which conflict with their religion. It also requires unions and employers to accommodate religious objections to union payments. Yet, according to Ross’ discrimination charges, SEIU union bosses flatly denied a request he made for such an accommodation.
Ross’ unfair labor practice charges, filed at NLRB Region 20, state that SEIU bosses and Allied Universal officials breached basic federal law by telling him that union membership is mandatory. The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects private sector workers’ right to abstain from any or all union activities, and forced union membership is prohibited regardless of an individual worker’s reason for not wanting to affiliate with a union.
California’s lack of Right to Work protections for its private sector workers means that union officials are granted the power to force workers to pay them fees or be fired in workplaces where they maintain power. However, under federal law, employees with religious objections cannot be compelled to pay such fees. In Right to Work states, in contrast, no worker can be fired for refusal to financially support a union.
Union’s Discriminatory Demands Violate Both Title VII and Basic Federal Labor Law
According to his discrimination charges, Ross informed both the SEIU union and Allied Universal when he was hired in 2020 that his religious beliefs disallowed union membership and that he needed an accommodation. In addition to ignoring that request, his charges state that on July 20, 2022, “Allied Universal…demanded that I sign a payroll deduction, join the unions, and pay union dues.”
On August 31, 2022, Ross reminded Allied Universal of his religious objection to paying union dues, but on September 15, 2022, Ross’ “employer stated that union membership was compulsory and deducted union fees” from his paycheck without his consent.
Ross’ unfair labor practice charges state that those deductions violate the NLRA, because that statute prohibits the deduction of union dues and fees unless the employee has signed a written authorization. Ross’ discrimination charges argue that both his employer and the union have also violated his rights “under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964” and parallel state non-discrimination laws.
Foundation Attorneys Regularly Win Cases for Workers Facing Religious Discrimination
Workers nationwide frequently turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid when union chiefs snub their requests for religious accommodations or otherwise discriminate against them based on their religious beliefs.
This past July, Foundation staff attorneys scored a multi-million-dollar jury verdict for former Southwest flight attendant Charlene Carter, whom Transport Workers Union (TWU) officials subjected to ridicule based on her religious opposition to union activities. This March, also with Foundation aid, Fort Campbell custodial worker Dorothy Frame won a settlement gaining a religious accommodation after Laborers’ (LIUNA) union officials unlawfully questioned her religious belief that she could not support financially the union’s political activities.
“The Foundation is proud to help working men and women who courageously stand up for their beliefs even in the midst of union coercion,” commented National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “However, it’s important to recognize that, regardless of whether an employee’s objection to union affiliation is religious in nature or not, no American worker should ever be forced to subsidize union activities they oppose.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.