Appellate court decision allows New York farm workers to organize

On Behalf of | Jul 19, 2019 | New York Union, Employee And Contract Law |

Workplace issues may develop in New York if employees feel as though they are not being heard or listened to by their managers and superiors. Luibrand Law Firm, PLLC understands how to prevent employment matters from escalating by diffusing disputes quickly and as soon as they occur. When an employee wishes to express their complaints or organize and bargain collectively, as described in a case reported by WRVO Public Media, businesses may have an option to avoid problems by establishing appropriate procedures in advance and communicating them clearly in a policy document.

After being fired from his job on a Lowville farm for attempting to organize his coworkers, the plaintiff teamed up with the Workers Center of Central New York to file a lawsuit against his former employer. The defendant, the New York Farm Bureau, argued that it had the right to terminate its employee based on language written in New York’s 1937 State Employment Relations Act. The SERA defined the employees who had legal protection and the right to organize, but its definition excluded farmworkers.

SERA’s language was found to be in conflict with the language presented in the New York State Constitution that allows for any employee to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choice. In the appellate court’s ruling, the judge struck down a portion of SERA where its language excludes farmworkers from organizing and bargaining collectively. The defendant’s attorney noted that New York farmers may now be affected by this court’s decision.

Although employees in northern New York, Dutchess and Ulster Counties have the right to organize and bargain collectively in certain situations, they may not have a right to violate an employer’s established and documented workplace policy. My page on business disputes provides more information on how you may proactively prevent such actions and other employee-related issues.