Las Vegas police officer sues Metro, union over alleged First Amendment violation in right-to-work lawsuit
A Las Vegas police officer is suing the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and its associated union, contending that continued union fee deductions from her paycheck violate her First Amendment rights.
The lawsuit, filed Aug. 10. by attorneys for the National Right to Work Foundation, states that officer Melodie DePierro told Metro and the Las Vegas Police Protective Association union in January that she wanted to resign from the union and stop paying dues but was denied by both parties. She was again rejected when she repeated her request a month later.
In the rejections, Metro and the union cited a clause in the collective bargaining agreement that employees may only resign within a 20-day window each October, according to the suit.
The complaint calls the escape period "impermissibly narrow" and says it forces employees to support the union and its speech for up to 11 months, thus violating their rights to free speech and association, or the right to join and leave groups freely. The lawsuit states that DePierro never affirmatively agreed to have union fees taken from her paycheck nor have her First Amendment rights waived.
The lawsuit repeatedly cites the 2018 landmark right-to-work Supreme Court case, Janus v. AFSCME, which ruled that public-sector employees do not have to pay union dues to cover costs for collective bargaining even though it benefits union-member and non-member employees alike. Justices also ruled that employees must affirmatively and knowingly agree to have union fees taken out of their wages.
The 2018 case overturned a 1971 decision that mandatory union dues could not be used for political purposes, such as lobbying, but could cover the cost of collective bargaining.