The Second Circuit Court of Appeals brings an interesting labor decision. In State Employee Bargaining Coalitation v. Roland, ___F.3d___( 2d Cir. May 31, 2013), the court found that targeting Union employees for layoffs violates the First Amendment (freedom of association).
In this case, the employer employed around 50,000 people. 75% of these employees were members of the Union, and 25% were not. In December 2002, the employer fired only Union employees. No non-Union employees were fired.
It is important to note that an employer can manage the size of their work force. However, the employer cannot target a protected group (here, employees who associated themselves with the Union). The reason for this is because by targeting a protected group, the effect is to inhibit employees from their freedom to associate.
Under the Constitution, in order for the employer to not violate the Constitution it must show that they used the less restrictive means to accomplish their interest and must be narrowly tailored to achieve their goals.
The following are the pivotal facts of this case. The employer’s interest was to manage their economical situation. However, the laying off those Union employees had a minimal effect on their budget. In fact, these Union-only lay offs were not included in the Balanced Budget Plan. Further, the facts showed that because both Union and non-Union employees had the same health care and pension benefits there was no reason why only the Union employees were targeted.