Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Duty of Fair Representation Definition:

A union's duty to be free of arbitrary judgment or discrimination or bad faith towards one it its members.

Related Terms: Duty

In 14 Penn Plaza, Justice Clarence Thomas of the United States Supreme Court wrote of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), that it imposes:

"... a duty of fair representation on labor unions, which a union breaches when its conduct toward a member of the bargaining unit is arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith.

"This duty extends to challenges leveled not only at a union's contract administration and enforcement efforts but at its negotiation activities as well.

"Thus, a union is subject to liability under the NLRA if it illegally discriminates against older workers in either the formation or governance of the collective-bargaining agreement, such as by deciding not to pursue a grievance on behalf of one of its members for discriminatory reasons....

"[T]he duty of fair representation (is) the statutory obligation to serve the interests of all members without hostility or discrimination toward any, to exercise its discretion with complete good faith and honesty, and to avoid arbitrary conduct."


  • 14 Penn Plaza v Pyett, 129 S. Ct. 1456 (2009)

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