It is well-settled that unions owe a duty to represent all employees in their respective bargaining units. Although this duty is not explicitly created by the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”), it has been implied from Section 9(a) of the Act, which grants unions the exclusive power to represent employees in their units.
As such, under NLRA Section 301 a wrongfully terminated employee may file suit in federal district court against both his employer (alleging that its conduct violated the labor agreement) and his union (alleging breach of contract and the duty of fair representation). A union’s breach of the duty of fair representation also constitutes an unfair labor practice under Section 8(b) of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act.
This chapter from Employee Rights Litigation: Pleading and Practice (Matthew Bender) provides an overview of labor unions’ duty of fair representation. The discussion initially addresses historical development of the duty and pertinent U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Next, the chapter turns to subject matter jurisdiction; exhaustion of remedies; contractual grievance procedures; internal union procedures; and litigating fair representation claims through other claims, including Title VII actions. The discussion continues with coverage of issues of proof, investigating claims, and filing complaints. The chapter concludes with analysis of allegations of the complaint; discovery; pre-trial motions; right to a jury trial; and remedies.
Employee Rights Litigation: Pleading and Practice (Matthew Bender) provides complete coverage of the basic legal standards governing the statutory and common law claims that can be raised on behalf of employees for discriminatory treatment or wrongful discharge. It contains analysis of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Equal Pay Act, Rehabilitation Act, Americans with Disabilities Act, Family and Medical Leave Act, ERISA, Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, Fair Labor Standards Act, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, and workers’ compensation laws. The publication also assists the practitioner with helpful checklists, practice pointers, cautions and warnings, citations to significant cases, and a statutory appendix.