December 30, 2010

An employee organization's duty of fair representation

An employee organization's duty of fair representation
Agosto v Correctional Services Benevolent Association, USDC SDNY, 107 F.Supp.2d 294

Blaca Agosto, a New York City corrections officer, filed a complaint with the deputy warden of the facility alleging that another guard had shown her sexually explicit photographs of another female corrections officer and then asked her to pose with him as well. When the deputy warden responded that he did not consider photographs offensive, she filed a complaint with the agency’s equal employment office.

After she was reprimanded by the deputy warden as a result of her filing her complaint, Agosto asked her local union representative for assistance. When her request was ignored, she asked other union officials for help.

Eventually Agosto filed a Title VII complaint against the department alleging sexual harassment. She also sued the union, contending that it violated Title VII because she was told by union officials that the union did not pursue grievances on behalf of unit employees who raised sexual harassment complaints.

US District Court Judge Denise Cote refused to dismiss Agosto’s complaint against the union, ruling that she could sue the union for breaching its duty of fair representation because it refused to assist her when she filed a sexual harassment grievance against the department.

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