Public Employee Unfair Practice Charge May Be Subject to PERB's Exclusive Jurisdiction

Often times, when employees are disgruntled with union representation, they file suit contending that the union did not properly represent their interests. However, such claims may be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the Public Employment Relations Board, as a case from the First District court of appeal indicates.

In Paulsen v. Local No. 856 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the court ruled that under the Meyers-Milias-Brown Act (Gov. Code sections 3500, et seq.) which governs public employee bargaining, there is an implied duty of fair representation and that an employee who contends that the union breached this duty must file an unfair labor practice with PERB rather than go to court with a lawsuit.

It should also be noted that the duty of fair representation vests broad authority in unions as to what the best course of action is.  As long as a union acts reasonably (not arbitrarily or in bad faith), it's decision will be immune from attack.

A copy of the Paulsen ruling is attached for your convenience.

Slote, Links & Boreman, LLP regularly advises employers, unions, and individual employees about issues such as this that arise in the workplace. Feel free to give us a call if you have questions or issues in this area.

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