Lawsuit seeks return under Janus precedent of all fees seized from nonmembers by California Faculty Association union officials
Sacramento, CA (December 10, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys have filed a federal class action lawsuit for a California professor to reclaim union fees California Faculty Association (CFA) officials unconstitutionally seized from him and similarly situated employees. The class action complaint potentially includes thousands of affected individuals and seeks to enforce the Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision, which held that the First Amendment prohibits mandatory union fees for public sector employees.
William D. Brice, a professor at California State University Dominguez Hills (CSU), filed the complaint against the CFA. The complaint, filed at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, claims that by forcing Brice and other public sector workers under the monopoly bargaining representation of CFA to pay union fees without their affirmative consent, CFA union officials violated their First Amendment rights as protected by the Janus precedent.
Brice exercised his right to resign his membership in CFA around November 2014. However, he and other union nonmembers were forced to pay union fees as a condition of employment under state law. California’s law requires CSU to deduct union fees from nonmembers’ wages and transfer them to CFA.
In the Foundation-won Supreme Court Janus v. AFSCME decision on June 27, 2018, the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to require government workers to pay any union dues and fees as a condition of employment. Additionally, the Court clarified that no union dues or fees can be taken from workers without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment right not to financially support a labor union.
In the class action lawsuit, Brice claims that CFA union officials violated his and other nonmembers’ rights under the Janus decision by compelling them to subsidize the union and automatically seizing fees without their clear consent. He asks that the statutes that compelled nonmembers to pay union fees to CFA as a condition of employment be declared unconstitutional.
The complaint requests that the court certify a class that includes all individuals who at any time within the applicable limitations period were forced to pay union fees to CFA without their affirmative consent and knowing waiver of their First Amendment rights, so they can all receive refunds of the money taken from them in violation of their constitutional rights.
“Independent-minded workers are standing up for their rights,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “In the Foundation-won Janus decision, the Supreme Court finally upheld public sector workers’ First Amendment right to choose whether or not to support a union without the threat of being fired. Further, the High Court made it clear that fees cannot be collected without a clear waiver of First Amendment rights, something the CFA never received from Professor Brice and his colleagues, which is why the complaint seeks refunds of millions of dollars of fees seized in recent years.”
The Foundation has created a special website, MyJanusRights.org, to assist public employees in exercising their rights under Janus, which was successfully argued by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorney William Messenger.
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 more than 250 cases nationwide per year.