Lawsuit seeks refunds of forced union fees seized from nonmembers by AFSCME union bosses before Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision
Columbus, Ohio (July 25, 2019) – Today, National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys filed an appeal in the class-action lawsuit against an Ohio affiliate of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union brought by Ohio Department of Taxation employee Nathaniel Ogle. The suit seeks the return of back dues seized by AFSCME union bosses before the Supreme Court’s 2018 Foundation-won Janus decision.
Ogle’s Foundation-provided attorneys filed the appeal to the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in his lawsuit against the Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (OCSEA) union seeking the return of forced fees seized in recent years from potentially thousands of state employees who were not union members but forced to subsidize union activities in violation of their First Amendment rights. The OCSEA has monopoly bargaining power over more than 30,000 Ohio government employees.
On July 17, a federal district court granted union officials’ motion to dismiss the case despite acknowledging that “It is undisputed that OCSEA’s prior practice of collecting mandatory fair share fees violated Ogle’s First Amendment rights.”
In Janus, the Supreme Court not only struck down forced dues for public employees but made it clear that any dues taken without a government employee’s explicit consent violate the First Amendment.
Ogle’s appeal is one of several to have reached a federal court of appeals challenging the so-called “good faith” defense that union lawyers have asserted in response to worker petitions for refunds, arguing that union officials should be allowed to keep funds seized prior to the Janus decision. The Supreme Court never suggested that Janus only requires prospective relief for affected workers. Indeed, the High Court has noted in Janus that union officials have been “on notice” for years that mandatory fees likely would not comply with the High Court’s heightened level of First Amendment scrutiny articulated in the 2012 Knox v. SEIU Supreme Court decision, won by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys.
“This case and dozens of others filed by Foundation staff attorneys to enforce the Supreme Court’s Janus decision demonstrate that union bosses will never willingly respect the rights of workers who are opposed to union affiliation and dues payments,” National Right to Work President Mark Mix said. “In this case and others being litigated with Foundation legal aid, workers seek the return of just a few years’ worth of unconstitutionally seized forced union fees as the statutes of limitations permit, which represents just a fraction of the fees union bosses have illegally collected from workers for decades.”
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.