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Public sector workers sue union for refund on past dues after Janus ruling

Activists rally in front of the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 26 in Washington, D.C. The court ruled in Janus v. AFSCME in June that unions could not require dues from nonunion members as a prerequisite for employment. Now, nonunion workers in Connecticut are suing for the refund of union dues, which they argue were improperly taken. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled that unions could not require dues from nonunion members as a prerequisite for employment. Now a series of lawsuits could determine if unions need to refund dues they required before that case was decided.

What exactly did the Supreme Court Case say?

In Janus v. AFSCME, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 on June 27 that public sector unions do not have a constitutional right to force employees to pay union dues. This ruling was limited to public sector unions and not to those at private companies.

What is this case about?

Attorneys for the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of two employees who work for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.

Kiernen Wholean and James Grillo were not members of DEEP's Service Employees International Union Local 2001. Nor, the lawsuit states, had they ever “consented to the deduction of forced fees.” However, they were still forced to pay union dues as a condition of their employment.

Wholean and Grillo's class action lawsuit argues that in addition to the two of them, anyone who was employed by DEEP for any period of time — from June 13, 2015, to June 21, 2018 — should get a refund on the union dues that they had to pay for the past three years. Janus was decided on June 27.

In the Janus case, the Supreme Court noted that unions had been “on notice” since 2012.

Although the Supreme Court determined that it was illegal to collect mandatory dues from nonunion public sector employees, unions have not automatically refunded past dues to nonunion employees.

What else?

This is not the first case that National Right to Work has filed on behalf of a union worker after the Janus ruling.

In July, it won a case involving an employee of Oregon's Department of Fish and Wildlife. In this case, the employee's husband was running as a Republican for state office. The Department's union, SEIU Local 503, collected dues from that employee while it was running attack ads against her husband, forcing her to support an effort to undermine her husband's candidacy. In that instance, the employee was refunded nearly $3,000 worth of mandatory dues.

National Right to Work Vice President for Public Information Patrick Semmens told TheBlaze that his organization was involved in several other class action lawsuits across the country.

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