Duty of Fair Representation

Time and again Blitman & King has successfully represented unions against member lawsuits. Because of our experience in routinely handling such matters, we understand the complicated legal landscape that unions face when confronting duty of fair representation lawsuits.

Although the union must make a good faith effort in representing the bargaining unit and investigating complaints, the union is not required to obtain a favorable resolution nor is the union required to follow the path that the grievant feels is best. It is often the case that a union makes every effort to best represent the unit and still finds itself subject to a DFR lawsuit. When that occurs, we provide aggressive representation utilizing every mean and method available to defend the union.

Practice Highlights

Here’s a sample of DFR cases we have litigated where:

  • we achieved summary judgment for international union and local union against a former member’s $3,000,000.00 damage claim for duty of fair representation violations by demonstrating the unions satisfaction of their obligations and the deficiencies in the plaintiff’s claim;
  • we achieved the court’s dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim that the union improperly handled the grievance on the grounds that the plaintiff presented inadequate evidence and untimely filing of the claim;
  • we obtained summary judgment in a “hybrid Section 301” duty of fair representation claim where retired members alleged that the union’s processing of their grievance was negligent based on the union’s failure to inform them about the status of negotiations;
  • we successfully asserted that plaintiff’s allegations against union for Title VII violations were not properly before the Court because plaintiff failed to first exhaust administrative remedies against the union and obtained summary judgment for the union on the ground the court lacked jurisdiction over the union;
  • we obtained summary judgment by demonstrating that the union did not breach its obligations to the plaintiff member when the union declined to pursue the member’s disability claim against the employer to arbitration;
  • we obtained summary judgment on procedural grounds where a member was masking their duty of fair representation claim as a violation of New York State Human Rights law; and
  • we successfully argued for summary dismissal of plaintiff’s “hybrid Section 301” claim against international union and affiliated local union on the grounds that the claims were time barred by the statute of limitations. On appeal, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed judgment in our favor.