No Constitutional Right To Solicit Union Membership On Duty

Eric Menegat and Luis Ruiz were firefighters employed by the City of Apopka, Florida. Menegat and Ruiz were trying to organize the City’s firefighters for purposes of collective bargaining. While on duty, they asked another potential union member to return his “authorization card,” the document which would have asked Florida’s Public Employment Relations Commission to conduct an election.

The City fired Menegat and Ruiz for violating a Florida state statue that prohibited public employees from soliciting union membership while on duty. Menegat and Ruiz brought a lawsuit against the City, seeking a declaratory judgment that the state statute prohibiting on-duty solicitation was unconstitutional.

The Florida Court of Appeals rejected the lawsuit. Adopting a trial court’s opinion, the Court concluded that because the statute dealt with on-duty conduct, it did not violate the free speech protections in the federal Constitution or the right to collectively bargain articulated in the Florida constitution.

Menegat v. City of Apopka, 2007 WL 1093478 (Fla.App. 2007).

This article appears in the July 2007 issue