The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear a case next year that could indirectly impact workplace safety and workers’ compensation.
Unionizing Efforts Lead to Takings Clause Claim
The case is Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid and comes from California. That state has a law that gives union organizers the right to enter agricultural areas for up to three hours per day, 120 days a year, to recruit farm workers. When organizers from the United Farm Workers union showed up at a strawberry nursery to recruit workers for their cause, the nursery sued the union. The lawsuit claimed that the California law that allowed the organizers to access the nursery’s property violated the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The Takings Clause says that private property shall not be taken for public use without compensation.
Both the district court and the 9th Circuit sided with the union organizers and upheld the California law. However, the Supreme Court accepted nursery’s appeal and will likely rule on it in the summer of 2021.
What Does This Have to Do With Workplace Safety?
The connection between union organizers’ access to a workplace in Cedar Point Nursery and workplace safety issues is not obvious. The connection becomes apparent, though, if you ask, “What if they weren’t union organizers?”
What if they were health inspectors or OSHA investigators, instead?
The issue that the Supreme Court is set to answer is not strictly relegated to unionizers. Instead, the Court is considering whether a state law would violate the Takings Clause by requiring that businesses let certain people on their property, without being paid compensation for the intrusion.
The implications of this ruling are astounding: If the Court sides with the nursery, it could give businesses the right to close their doors to people they find inconvenient, like building, health, and workplace safety inspectors.
A Narrow, Anti-Union Ruling is Likely
Because the implications of a broad ruling would be so deep and widespread, it would be surprising for the Court to take that route. It would upset too much of the status quo.
However, the aggressively anti-union stance of the Court – made worse by recent appointments – and the fact that the Court even agreed to hear this case, in the first place, tells us that the Court wants to overturn the 9th Circuit in favor of the nursery. The safe bet, then, is that the Supreme Court will issue a narrow ruling that further undermines union power, but does not allow businesses to exclude other types of inspectors.
Even a narrow ruling like this, though, would hurt workers’ rights to a safe workplace. Unions are the leading advocates for the rights and interests of workers, including their rights to workers’ compensation and a safe working environment. As we detailed in our blog years ago, workers’ compensation took a blow in the Supreme Court’s decision Janus v. AFSCME, a disturbingly weak decision that undercut unions by outlawing the collection of agency fees.
Every time unions are weakened, workers lose one of their most important advocates.
Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at the Smith Law Office Serve St. Joseph
The personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers at the Smith Law Office legally represent injured workers in St. Joseph, Kansas City, Springfield, and western Missouri. Contact them online or call their law office at (816) 875-9373.