Can I Sue My Union for Breach of Contract?

Can I Sue My Union for Breach of Contract?

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Can I Sue My Union for Breach of Contract?

If you are a member of a labor union, this presents unique legal and specific workplace-related challenges in the event that you believe that your contract has been breached. This leads many people to ask the question, “Can I sue my union for breach of contract?” Breaches of contract are some of the most complicated legal cases around and may require the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who has worked on many situations like this before.

It can be difficult to navigate the legal process without the support of a dedicated lawyer to guide you through, because minor mistakes made in these kinds of situations can have long-lasting implications. Make sure that you firmly read through the specifics of your entire contract to understand your rights and responsibilities. If you are still asking the question, "Can I sue my union for breach of contract?" — you'll need to proceed by doing additional research and by contacting a knowledgeable lawyer to help handle your case.

As a member of a union, you count on this organization to protect your rights and advocate for you. But if your reps deviate from that or violate your legal rights, you might have grounds for an individual suit against them. Read on to learn more about when this might apply. 

Things You Can Sue a Union For

A labor union is a formal organization that represents the collective interests of its members. The National Labor Relations Act means that every employee has the right to join a union, but in the event that a member believes that the union misrepresented them or failed their legal duty of fair representation, this can prompt a lawsuit. 

Pursue any internal procedure first before trying to figure out, "Can I sue my union for breach of contract?" The specifics of your local union's requirements are often found in the fine print. You might discover, for example, that you need to appeal to your local union's decision not to pursue agreements through arbitration with an international office of the union. If you have attempted all of these efforts and have exhausted all of them and are still not able to achieve the outcome you wanted or get reinstated, you can contact the nearest location of the National Labor Relations Board or by filing in federal district court. Bear in mind there are different requirements for government employees, like local and state government employees. 

Timeline for Responding to Union Issues

If you think there’s an issue with the way the union handled your situation, you should be prepared to respond promptly in order to best protect your interests. 

If you attempt to file a claim for breach of contract, you have six months from the day that you have exhausted every other internal grievance procedure to open your claim. Your claim will be directly against the union for an alleged breach of their fair representation duty. However, this is not the only type of legal case that you might bring forward at this time, and this is why it is helpful to have an experienced employment lawyer read through your case and give you further information about how to proceed. 

For example, you might also have grounds to open a claim against your employer for the original grievance in the event you didn’t get a fair outcome the first time because the union fell short in representing you. 

You must prove first that the union failed to adequately represent you, even if you are not taking up a claim against the union, in order to be successful with the case against the employer. In the event that you have answered the question, "Can I sue my union for breach of contract?" and have decided to move forward with legal action, you could be entitled to recover compensation in court. 

For example, if your claim is successful, you could get your old job back and get any back pay for the wages that you lost if you were previously terminated. However, you will not be entitled to money for distress, pain, and suffering or inconvenience that the entire situation has caused you. Having a dedicated and experienced lawyer who is familiar with the ins and outs of the National Labor Relations Act can make a big difference in this regard.

Understanding Violations of Unions Duties

The role of a union is to support their members on matters like benefits, wages, workplace health, and safety. In some circumstances, a union member may be eligible to sue the union for breach of contract because of violations of union obligations. Some examples of common union obligation violations include:

  • Striking over issues not related to work or employment
  • Retaliating against employees who have legally and validly resigned from that union
  • Refusing to pursue complaints from employees because that employee criticized the union or were not union members in states where union security clauses are not allowed
  • Threatening employees with their job unless they support the union

Illegal union misrepresentation can also emerge as a problem in these legal cases. Arbitrary treatment has to do with situations in which a union refuses to forward a member’s claim without giving any valid reasons for doing so. Discriminatory treatment cases refer to situations in which a union refuses to pursue an employee's claim because of that employee’s religion, gender, disability, nationality, race, sexual orientation, or pregnancy. Finally, interpersonal tension is another issue that can emerge with union representation, and this happens when a union official or the union itself refuses to pursue a valid complaint of an employee because they do not like that employee.

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  • What to Know About Suing a Union for Misrepresentation?

    If you believe that you need to sue your union for breach of contract because they have been violating their duties, you can start by trying to resolve the matter internally directly with your union representative. During this time, however, proceed as though you may end up going to court; so you will want to do things like collecting evidence for your claim like locations, documents, dates, witnesses, and more. In the event that the National Labor Relations Board determines that you have been unfairly treated by the union, they will issue what is known as a right to sue letter. Before you begin filing a lawsuit, retain an experienced labor lawyer who can review the specifics of your case and help you prepare. 

    They will make sure that you have all of the necessary information gathered and in the right order to make an official complaint, and then your legal council will open the case. The union needs to be served with notice after you have filed the lawsuit because they are allowed to deny or settle within a specific period of time if they do not offer to settle and are unable to dismiss the claim. 

    An official date of the trial will be set by the judge. In these circumstances, it is extremely important to have a knowledgeable and dedicated lawyer guide you through the process so as to avoid mistakes and help prepare you for what to expect. It can be very overwhelming to navigate labor employment issues on your own, and it is strongly recommended that you retain a lawyer who has helped other people with situations like this in the past. This way you will be able to focus on your own case without having to worry about what happens next in your circumstances. It can be very frustrating to learn that your labor union has not appropriately represented your interests, but because there are so many specifics and deadlines at play, you need to be prepared to move forward as soon as possible with the support of a dedicated lawyer.

  • Why Do I Really Need a Lawyer?

    It can feel very difficult to take on your union on your own, especially if you hope to keep your job. For this reason, many people choose not to bring a legal case at all, but this can be a big mistake. You deserve to have your rights protected. Retaining a lawyer who can take an honest look at your case will help you determine your recourse and which actions make sense for you to pursue. A lawyer will also be able to tell you more information about whether or not the union’s actions did breach their duty to you, so that you feel more confident about filing a case if you choose to do so. 

    There’s a lot at stake when you proceed with a claim against a union, and you want to make sure that you’ve considered all the angles and taken the right steps. Hiring a lawyer who has helped others navigate this situation is strongly recommended. 

    If you suspect your union has mistreated you, contact the experts at Morgan & Morgan today to get started with a free, no-obligation case evaluation. Get the information you need to take your first steps toward justice.

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