U.S. Supreme Court Affirms Lower Court’s Ruling That UNITE HERE Violated Federal Privacy Laws
Labor union to pay at least $5 million to Cintas employees
CINCINNATI, April 7, 2009 — The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court’s judgment against UNITE HERE, finding the labor union violated the privacy of thousands of Cintas employees under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act.
The ruling comes after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upheld a decision finding that UNITE HERE had illegally obtained the license plate numbers from Cintas employees — as well as some of their friends and family members — in order to access home addresses and other personal information.
In September, the appeals court rejected UNITE HERE’s argument, finding that the union’s "clear labor-organizing purpose" for obtaining vehicle records went beyond the very limited grounds under which motor vehicle information could be lawfully obtained and used. UNITE HERE obtained the personal information of Cintas employees as part of the union’s six year old organizing campaign, in which the union has tried to force Cintas to give up its employees’ rights to a secret ballot election procedure for deciding on union representation.
The appellate court also noted that the union could be held liable for additional damages arising from the union’s multiple uses of personal information. Each plaintiff currently stands to receive up to $2500.
The lawsuit was originally filed in June 2004 after union organizers began showing up uninvited at the homes of Cintas employees in Pennsylvania. The named plaintiffs represent a class of approximately 2,000 Cintas employees and family members who were targeted as part of the unions’ failed organizing efforts.
This is the second multi-million dollar decision rendered against UNITE HERE related to its organizing tactics. In 2006, a jury in Northern California found that UNITE HERE had defamed Sutter Health and its affiliated hospitals during another organizing campaign. The union was ordered to pay over $17 million in damages.
The Supreme Court’s filing on this case is available at:
About Cintas Corporation:
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cintas Corporation provides highly specialized services to businesses of all types throughout North America. Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, first aid and safety products, fire protection services and document management services to approximately 800,000 businesses. Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol CTAS and is a Nasdaq-100 company and component of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index.