DECEMBER 20, 2007 - Schwartz Perry & Heller TO ARGUE BEFORE NY STATE COURT OF APPEALS ABOUT MANDATORY ARBITRATION OF UNION MEMBERS
Schwartz Perry & Heller is pleased to state that we have been granted leave to appeal one of our cases to the New York State Court of Appeals, the highest court in the State. The Court of Appeals only accepts a small percentage of appeals, and we are pleased that the Court recognized the significance of the pending issue.
Our client, a cleaning person and union member, was sexually harassed at work and ultimately fired after she complained. Our firm represented her in a lawsuit, brought in state court under the New York City Human Rights Law. The company moved to compel arbitration of the claim, alleging that she had waived her right to a jury under the union's collective bargaining agreement ("CBA"). The court granted the motion, since the existing state law holds that these agreements are enforceable against human rights claims.
The issue is that while such CBA provisions are enforceable in state court, the federal courts, including the federal courts of New York, have specifically held that these CBA provisions are not enforceable. In fact, almost every court in the country that has addressed this issue has overwhelmingly found such provisions to be invalid, in light of the differing interests between the union and the employee's individual rights.
This case, therefore, presents the fascinating issue of bringing the law of New York State in line with the laws throughout the rest of the county. Our appeal to the mid-level court, the First Department, essentially asked the court to reverse itself and was denied in a very short opinion.
Our victory today permits us to appeal to the highest court in the State, to have New York rule consistently with the federal courts and other areas of the country. We are honored and privileged to be able to present this cutting edge issue to the Court of Appeals, on behalf of our client.