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Texas Supreme Court rules in favor of City in case regarding union representation

The Texas Supreme Court issued a ruling (PDF) today that found public sector employees do not have a right to union representation during meetings with supervisors where the employee believes the interview may result in disciplinary action. The ruling overturned an appeals court decision of a 2008 case that involved the Round Rock Fire Department.

“We are pleased with the Supreme Court decision, which answered an important question regarding the ability of public-sector supervisors to carry out their day-to-day responsibilities,” City Manager Steve Norwood said. “While the incident that spawned the case was resolved nearly four years ago, the issue of public employees in Texas having the right to request union representation in any meeting they believe ‘may’ result in discipline was not settled until today’s decision.”

In July 2008, then-Round Rock Fire Chief Larry Hodge called Firefighter Jaime Rodriguez into his office to discuss whether Rodriguez misused sick leave earlier that month to get a physical examination to pursue employment elsewhere.  Rodriguez requested union representation at the meeting, which Hodge denied. At a subsequent meeting, Rodriguez agreed to a five-day suspension.

Three months later, Rodriguez and the Round Rock Association of Professional Firefighters filed suit alleging Hodge and the City of Round Rock violated Rodriguez’s right to union representation.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 ruling authored by Justice Paul W. Green, stated the Texas Legislature has not granted that right under Section 101.001 of the Texas Labor Code.

Hodge subsequently retired from the City in 2011, and Rodriguez remains with the Fire Department, holding the rank of Driver.

Posted: Friday, April 05, 2013

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