Association wins Victory on Dues Issue

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The California Teacher’s Association won a large victory for unions and organized labor in the United States Supreme Court on May 26, 2016. The justices deadlocked 4-4, which means that lower court’s ruling in the matter stands.

The case involved ten teachers from California and the Christian Educators Association International who jointly sued the California Teacher’s Association (CTA). The CTA is one of the largest and most powerful teachers’ unions in the country.

California is one of 23 states which requires public employees like teachers to pay a mandatory fee to the union even if the employee is not a union member. The state and unions reason that since all teachers benefit from the association’s collective bargaining efforts, then all teachers should pay for these costs.

The teachers argued that this “agency shop” law, which requires teachers to pay union fees as a condition of employment, is unconstitutional. The teachers believe that the rule violates their freedom of speech and freedom of association. Some teachers do not want to join the union because they disagree with unions in general, and others disagree with the CTA’s widespread political activities. Others simply do not believe they should be forced to pay money for an organization that they do not want to join.

The tied decision was expected after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Since the Court only has eight justices, a tie leaves the lower court decision in place but does not decide the issue permanently. The case can still be re-presented to the Supreme Court once a ninth justice is in place.

Many legal observers believed that Justice Scalia would have ruled against the unions. If this were the case, the decision would have caused a major blow to unions across the nation and would have greatly decreased their power. If the decision were overturned, non-union employees would no longer have to contribute to the union’s collective bargaining costs, and the impact would be substantial.

Anti-union activists have vowed to present the case again, and many believe that the issue is important enough that a full panel of justices will agree to re-hear the case. Unless or until that happens, California law still allows unions to charge non-members dues or fees in order to support their activities.

Were You Asked to Sign Something Just to Get Paid?

fiprkThe day an employee leaves their job can be a very emotional experience, even if the employee is leaving the job by choice. It is often much more so if an employee is being fired or laid off for lack of work. It makes sense, in a world where most people work paycheck to paycheck. When a job is ending, people often wonder where their next month’s rent is coming from and whether or not they’re eligible to collect unemployment.

Too often, an employer will ask an employee to sign something on this day. And employees will sign it, sometimes without even reading it, believing it is necessary to get their final paycheck. Often, they are very concerned about what their employer will say to prospective employers who call and ask about their job performance and behavior. Sometimes, employees will sign anything just because they want things to be gotten over with.

However, employees should carefully read anything they’re asked to sign regarding their employment, especially at the end of their job. The employer could be trying to get the employee to agree they have been paid everything they are owed, or even waiving their rights to sue in exchange for a small severance payment.

Labor Code 206 and 206.5 may protect employees in this situation. Labor Code Section 206.5 clearly states that an employer cannot require an employee to sign a release in order to get paid. Violation of this section can be a misdemeanor, and it covers claims regarding wages due or about to become due. Labor Code Section 206 states that in any dispute over wages, the employer shall pay the undisputed amount due within the required time limits. Triple damages can sometimes be recovered in this situation under the code. This section also provides that the employee still has the right to bring a lawsuit over disputed amounts paid, even if the employer pays the undisputed amount.

One thing an employee shouldn’t have to worry about is whether or not they’ve been paid all their wages, especially when they’re in a precarious situation to begin with.

Civil Rights


Civil Rights

The term “Civil Rights” generally refers to those rights established under state and federal constitutions or statutes protecting certain “unalienable rights”, such as voting or being free from unlawful searches or seizures and discrimination based upon gender, race, disability, age or other characteristics. This office handles a wide variety of civil rights cases under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Unruh Civil Rights Act, and actions commonly referred to as “Section 1983” actions.

Your Civil Rights:

Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), 42 US Code Section 2000e-2 is a federal law which prohibits discrimination in employment on the basis of an individual’s race, color, religion, sex or national origin.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) is a federal law which protects certain employees against age discrimination in employment.

California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code Section 12940, et seq., is similar to Title VII and protects individuals under California law. The protections are similar to those of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), but is much broader
in its protection of employees with medical conditions. The FEHA also protects employees against discrimination based upon gender, race, religion, medical condition and other characteristics.

Unruh Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code Section 51, et seq., prohibits discrimination by California “business establishments” on the basis of protected characteristics such as race, gender and disability.

Title 42 US Code Section 1983 is a federal law which provides protection of individuals denied rights under “color of state law.” These actions are typically based upon denial of due process or equal protection, such as police brutality, or termination of government employees’ jobs.

If you believe you have had your civil rights violated, contact our office for a consultation.

For a free consultation call 1-855-700-5678