Union May Face|Punitive Damages

     PHILADELPHIA (CN) – A textile workers’ union should pay punitive damages for using workers’ license plates to get contact information, the 3rd Circuit ruled.

     UNITE (Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees) joined with Teamsters to launch a union organizing campaign against Cintas. Union organizers felt the Cintas workers were victims of low wages, insufficient benefits and unsafe working conditions.
     One way the unions used to contact the employees at home was to use license plates to look up their contract information on the state’s vehicle records database.
     Thirteen plaintiffs sued the union for violating the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. The trial court awarded the plaintiffs $2,500 each. However, on the issue of punitive damages, the court granted summary judgment to the union. Judge Chagares ruled that this was a mistake.
     “The court did not apply the standards for summary judgment, nor did it even mention summary judgment in its analysis,” Chagares ruled.
     The judge vacated the lower court’s ruling and remanded the case “to address explicitly whether summary judgment was appropriate on the issue of punitive damages.”

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