Union Blackballs Member Who Complained of Injustice

Unions are always quick to cast stones against companies and allege that employers retaliate against workers who stand up for their rights. Yet some unions don’t realize they live in a glass house. The Operating Engineers union recently retaliated against a female member by removing her name from a work-eligible list at its hiring hall after she filed a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and openly criticized union management.

Unions are held to the same Wright Line standards as companies when it comes to retaliating against an employee. Under Wright Line, a union violates the National Labor Relations Act if it takes harmful action against a member in retaliation for that member’s statutorily protected activity unless the union can show it would have taken the same steps absent the protected activity. In addition to retaliating, the union also violated its duty of fair representation by excluding the member from the union’s out-of-work list and refusing to stamp her unemployment book.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at maustin@ralaw.com.