With free legal aid from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, a former teacher at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy in Los Angeles, California has received a refund of illegally seized union dues. The refund came after Foundation staff attorneys sent a letter to officials with the Camino Nuevo Teachers Association (CNTA), an affiliate of California Teachers Association (CTA), threatening legal action for violating the teacher’s First Amendment rights.
In the Foundation-argued Janus v. AFSCME U.S. Supreme Court case, the Court recognized that forcing public sector workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment violates the First Amendment. The Justices also ruled that public employees must opt in with affirmative consent to any union payments before money can be taken from their paycheck.
Natalie Bahl, who was a teacher at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy up until recently, attempted to exercise her rights under the Janus decision. Ms. Bahl notified the union of her decision in a mass email to several union officials, which reportedly also prompted other teachers to make similar requests. Her email was sent before the union-designated “window period” closed for teachers to revoke their authorization for deducting union dues.
Despite the timely request, Ms. Bahl realized a few months later that union dues were still being deducted from her paycheck. When she asked union officials about it, they suddenly claimed she missed her window period for dues revocation.
At that point, Ms. Bahl reached out to National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation staff attorneys who sent a letter demanding a refund of union dues collected in violation of the Janus precedent. Rather than face a potential federal civil rights lawsuit, CNTA union officials refunded all dues taken from Bahl from the time of her request until she left the school’s employment to further pursue her own education.
Since winning the 2018 Janus Supreme Court decision, Foundation staff attorneys have filed dozens of cases across the country for public employees seeking to enforce their First Amendment rights under the Janus decision.
“Even when public employees comply with arbitrary and unilaterally imposed union policies designed to stifle their First Amendment rights, union officials brazenly ignore Janus in order to fill their coffers with union dues seized from unwilling employees,” said National Right to Work Foundation President Mark Mix. “Teachers and other public-sector workers have Janus rights under the First Amendment and should immediately contact the Foundation for free legal assistance if they believe their rights have been violated.”
The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses. The Foundation, which can be contacted toll-free at 1-800-336-3600, assists thousands of employees in around 250 cases nationwide per year.