Legal Alert: Employee Privacy Interests Outweigh Union's Right To Communicate With Represented Employees in California

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Is a California employer required to disclose an employee's home telephone number and address upon request by a union without first advising the employee of the disclosure? According to a recent California Court of Appeal opinion, County of Los Angeles v. Los Angeles County Employee Relations Committee, an employer may not do so unless it provides the same notice and opt-out procedures provided to putative class members in consumer class actions. The court's decision expressly found that employee privacy rights are guaranteed by the California constitution and outweigh a union's right to communicate with represented employees.

Los Angeles County ("County") employees are represented by Service Employees International Union Local 721 ("the Union"). The County employees have the collective right to unionize, but the individual right to refuse to join to union. The bargaining unit was comprised of approximately 15,000 County employees. However, only 11,000 employees were members and 4,000 were non-members. The Union had the home addresses and telephone numbers for less than half of the non-members and wanted the ability to contact all of the non-members.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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