Seventh Circuit recognizes unions’ good-faith defense in post-Janus litigation
November 6, 2019
In a pair of significant rulings, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit held that public-employee unions are shielded from paying damages or restitution for fair-share fees collected from nonmembers before the United States Supreme Court decided that those fair-share fees were unconstitutional in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 138 S. Ct. 2448 (2018).
Janus overruled a 41-year-old precedent, Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 432 U.S. 209 (1977), which had held that a fair-share fee requirement was constitutional. The Seventh Circuit held that public employee unions’ good-faith reliance on Abood, as well as the state statutes it authorized, precluded the assessment of damages or restitution for fair-share fees collected before the Supreme Court’s Janus decision. The Seventh Circuit’s decisions in Janus v. AFSCME, Council 31, 942 F.3d 352 (7th Cir. 2019), and Mooney v. Illinois Education Association, 942 F.3d 368 (7th Cir. 2019), are the first published court of appeals decisions to consider whether this good-faith defense applies to fair-share fees collected before the Supreme Court’s decision in Janus. Bredhoff & Kaiser represented the defendant unions in those cases, both on appeal and in district court.