Ninth Circuit Affirms That Union May Negotiate Settlements Waiving Rights Of Affected Members Without Their Consent

Category: Fire Watch
Date: Jan 8, 2021 12:57 PM

An employee with the City of Spokane’s (City) Fire Department (Department) filed a complaint with the Human Resources Department alleging workplace misconduct by multiple Department employees, including Don Waller. Upon receipt of this complaint, the City and the union representing Waller and the other identified employees entered into a settlement agreement providing for less severe discipline in exchange for the waiver of the union members’ rights to administratively appeal the discipline.  

Following this settlement, Waller sued the City, alleging that it violated his rights under the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution by denying him the opportunity to pursue the post-discipline review.  The City sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that the union waived Waller’s right to seek post-discipline review in the course of negotiating a settlement of the disciplinary charges he and other union members faced.  The district court agreed.  Waller appealed and the Ninth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision. 

The Ninth Circuit held that the district court properly granted the dismissal.  The Ninth Court found that a long-standing legal principle supports that unions are free to negotiate settlements without the affected members’ consent, even if the settlement waives rights that the members would have otherwise had, such as appeal rights. 

Waller v. City of Spokane, Washington, 830 Fed.Appx. 952 (9th Cir. 2020) 


This case reaffirms that a union has broad authority to negotiate settlements that waive a union member’s rights. LCW attorneys are skilled in all parts of the disciplinary process, including settling cases when appropriate.

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