The U.S. Supreme Court’s blockbuster twin bill of Epic Systems and Janus — which blessed employers’ use of arbitration pacts with class action waivers and curtailed public-sector unions’ ability to collect fees from nonmembers — highlighted a crop of 2018 rulings that are likely to leave a lasting impact on the employment law landscape.
Janus v. AFSCME
The second leg of the high court’s springtime double main event was a labor case in which the justices, by the same 5-4 split as in Epic Systems, struck a harsh blow against public-sector unions. The court in June stripped away the unions ability to collect so-called agency fees from nonunion workers that cover the costs associated with collective bargaining if the workers haven’t given their affirmative consent to paying those fees.
The justices, siding with Illinois state worker Mark Janus in his challenge of a four-decade-old precedent from a case called Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, concluded that requiring individuals who don’t want to be union members to pay agency fees violates their First Amendment rights.
But Hugh Murray of McCarter & English LLP says the ruling “hasn’t yet resulted in a widespread fleeing of people from public-sector unions.”
“I think the public-sector unions had a good deal of lead time knowing that this was probably coming, and they did some preparation. Some of [it] was upping their game in terms of what benefits you get in terms of being a member,” Murray said. “It’ll be interesting in a year, or two or three, to see what effect [the decision] has with new people coming into bargaining units and being told, ‘You don’t necessarily have to pay.’ With what we saw last year … [with] teachers striking in states where there wasn’t a collective bargaining statute, I’m not sure that [Janus] is going to have the catastrophic impact that people were either fearing or hoping for, depending on what side of the political spectrum folks are on.”
Click to read the full article: “Epic, Janus Highlight 2018’s Biggest Employment Rulings”