Lawsuits seek refunds for forced union dues seized from nonmembers and end to union policy blocking workers from exercising First Amendment rights under Janus
Columbus, Ohio (October 15, 2018) – National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys are providing free legal aid to public sector workers in Ohio in two class-action lawsuits filed today against Ohio affiliates of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees Union (AFSCME) union. One lawsuit aims to end unconstitutional restrictions created by union officials to block workers from exercising their constitutional rights as recognized by the Janus decision, while the other class-action complaint demands the return of forced fees seized in recent years from state employees who were not union members.
The filings are part of a wave of cases brought by Foundation staff attorneys for public employees seeking to enforce their rights under the June Supreme Court decision in Janus v. AFSCME. In Janus, which was briefed and argued at the Supreme Court by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, the Court ruled that the collection of dues or fees from workers without explicit employee authorization violates workers’ constitutional rights.
In the case seeking refunds of illegally-seized union fees Foundation staff attorneys represent Nathaniel Ogle, an employee of Ohio’s Department of Taxation. The case seeks refunds for Ogle and a class of other state employees who were not union members but nevertheless had forced union fees seized from their paychecks. The case was filed against Ohio Civil Service Employees Association (AFSCME Local 11) union, which has monopoly bargaining power over more than 30,000 Ohio government employees.
In the other class-action lawsuit, Foundation staff attorneys represent Jotham Smith, Adam Scheiner, Brian Parks, Annette Lipsky, Steven Fletcher, Michael Cooper, and Tracey Baird, who are employed by various state and local Ohio government agencies. The workers all resigned their membership from AFSCME Council 8 following the Janus decision, but AFSCME officials have continued deducting dues, citing a union policy restricting revocation of dues deduction to a narrow 15-day window before a new monopoly bargaining contract is enforced. The lawsuit, which is also filed on behalf of other public employees who attempted to resign from the union and exercise their rights under Janus only to be blocked, asks the court to declare AFSCME’s resignation policy unconstitutional and seeks an injunction to stop the union from collecting dues from non-consenting public employees.
“Since the Janus decision was announced in June, Foundation staff attorneys have received a flood of calls from workers wanting to enforce their First Amendment rights,” said Mark Mix, President of the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation. “Unfortunately, rather than allow workers to decide freely whether or not to associate with and financially support a labor union, union bosses coast to coast have instead attempted to block workers from exercising their constitutional rights, making numerous Janus enforcement cases necessary.”
To inform workers of their legal rights under Janus, and ensure they know they can turn to the National Right to Work Foundation for free legal aid if union officials attempt to obstruct them from exercising those rights, the Foundation launched a special website: MyJanusRights.org.
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.