Jason Habinsky in Law360: Unions Stay Bulletproof in NY After High Court Punts

04/09/2014


New York's top court on Tuesday refused to allow a fired bus driver to sue his former union for failing to protect him from his employer, punting an opportunity to alter an “impossible” liability standard for suits against unions to state lawmakers who also are highly unlikely to take action, legal experts said.

A divided Court of Appeals ruled that former CNY Centro Inc. bus driver Eugene Palladino couldn't bring a claim that the Amalgamated Transit Union local failed in its duty to represent him since, under a 1951 precedent, he couldn't prove that every member of the union agreed to the decisions that led to him losing his job after more than 24 years...

At the very least, the court "punted" on a chance to fix a logically questionable legal standard, according to Jason Habinsky, a Haynes and Boone, LLP labor and employment partner not involved in the case.

“It's a dirty little secret in New York that it's virtually impossible to sue unions in state court," Habinsky said.

He said the 63-year-old rule makes less and less sense in an era where big unions "act more and more like corporations," delegating decisions like those in Palladino's disciplinary matter to union agents.

Excerpted from Law360, April 9, 2014. To view full article, click here (subscription required).

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