Lee v. Ohio Education Association, No. 19-3250 (6th Cir. 2020)Annotate this Case
Lee, a public-school teacher, was required to either join the union or pay fair-share fees as a non-member because the collective bargaining agreement between the school district and the union included a fair-share clause. Lee paid fair-share fees. Anticipating that the Supreme Court would overrule its precedent endorsing fair-share fees (Abood), Lee filed a putative class action, asserting that the union and state actors had violated her constitutional rights by imposing compulsory fair-share fees as a condition of employment. She sought a declaration that provisions of Ohio law were unconstitutional and damages. Two days later, the Supreme Court issued its "Janus" decision, reasoning that fair-share fees resulted in non-members being “forced to subsidize a union, even if they choose not to join and strongly object to the positions the union takes in collective bargaining and related activities,” thereby violating the free speech rights of non-members. Lee dismissed her claims against the state officials and the school district. The Sixth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of the claims against the union. The union, as a private actor sued under 42 U.S.C. 1983, was entitled to rely on its good faith in following existing Ohio law and Supreme Court precedent. The state-law conversion count failed to state a plausible claim for relief.