Foundation-backed Hamidi v. SEIU class action lawsuit for over 40,000 nonmember workers seeks refunds of monies taken in violation of the First Amendment
Sacramento, CA (July 9, 2018) – The recent Foundation-won U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Janus v. AFSCME strengthens the legal case brought for 40,000 California state employees seeking refunds of dues seized by Service Union International (SEIU) union officials.
Hamidi et al. v. SEIU Local 1000 is a class-action lawsuit challenging SEIU Local 1000 union officials’ opt-out policy that required workers to affirmatively opt-out of the portion of union fees that workers cannot be legally required to fund. In 2015, a federal District Court Judge certified National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorney W. James Young as the attorney for the class of over 40,000 nonmembers who have been forced to fund SEIU union officials as a condition of employment.
On the same day Janus was decided, Young wrote a Rule 28(j) letter to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals formally notifying the Court of the Janus decision and its relevance to the Hamidi case. The High Court’s opinion in Janus, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, makes several points that bolster the legal claims of lead plaintiff Ken Hamidi and the other tens of thousands of other workers who seek damages for improperly seized “non-chargeable” union fees going back to June 2013.
In Janus the Supreme Court not only made it clear that the First Amendment protects public sector workers from being required to make any payments to a union as a condition of government employment, but also that workers cannot be required to opt out of such payments. According to the Supreme Court, “neither an agency fee nor any other payment to the union may be deducted from a nonmember’s wages, nor may any other attempt be made to collect such a payment, unless the employee affirmatively consents to pay.”
The Court also held that, since at least 2012 when the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a similar class of tens of thousands of nonmember employees forced to pay money to SEIU Local 1000 in the Foundation-won Knox v. SEIU Local 1000, unions “have been on notice” about the dubious legal grounds for requiring workers to pay any union fees.
Because SEIU Local 1000 did not adjust its policy of forcing workers to opt-out of non-chargeable fees after the Knox decision, the Supreme Court’s Janus decision means the union could now be required to refund all non-chargeable fees (determined by the Supreme Court in Janus to be all fees) seized since June 2013 from over 40,000 class members, an amount likely well over $100 million.
“Around the country, the effect of the Janus decision is just starting to be felt,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Foundation. “Thanks to this landmark ruling, tens of thousands of California government employees are now a step closer to finally receiving recompense for years of being forced to hand over their hard-earned money to an SEIU union they choose not to join.”
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 about 200 cases nationwide per year.