Vegas police officer files union membership resignation policies lawsuit

Las Vegas police officer files federal lawsuit over union membership resignation policies  

On Aug. 10, a Las Vegas police officer filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada against both her union and the police department, alleging the union’s membership resignation policies violate her First Amendment rights.

Who are the parties to the suit?  

The plaintiff is Melodie DePierro, an officer of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Her attorneys are from the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, which describes itself as a “nonprofit, charitable organization providing free legal aid to employees whose human or civil rights have been violated by compulsory unionism abuses.”

The defendants are the Las Vegas Police Protective Association (LVPPA) and the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Founded in 1947, the LVPPA, an affiliate of the National Association of Police Organizations, represents active and retired police and corrections officers and the Las Vegas Deputy City and Municipal Court Marshals. 

What is at issue?

On Jan. 9, DePierro informed both the LVPPA and the police department of her resignation from the union. DePierro requested that dues deductions from her wages stop immediately. 

Both the LVPPA and the police department denied DePierro’s request. They cited Article 4.1 of the current collective bargaining agreement between the LVPPA and the police department: 

“The [Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department] agrees to deduct from the paycheck of each employee within the bargaining unit who has signed an authorized payroll deduction card such amount as has been designated by the Association as Association dues and is so certified by the treasurer of the Association. … Dues deduction authorization shall be irrevocable for a period of one (1) year and automatically renewed each year thereafter commencing October 1, except that authorization may be withdrawn by an employee during a period of 20 days each year ending October 20.” 

DePierro says she never signed a dues deduction authorization form. Her attorneys say “the restrictive revocation policy, contained in the collective bargaining agreement and as applied to DePierro, prohibits DePierro from exercising her First Amendment right under Janus not to subsidize a labor union and its speech.” 

DePierro’s attorneys are seeking the following from the court: 

  • A declaratory judgment that the policy in question is unconstitutional and that DePierro’s Jan. 9 resignation was valid.
  • An injunction permanently barring the defendants from collecting dues from DePierro. 
  • An order requiring the defendants to reimburse DePierro for all dues deducted from her wages after her Jan. 9 resignation. 
  • A judgement awarding DePierro nominal damages, costs, and reasonable attorneys’ fees.

What are the reactions?

The police department has not publicly responded to the lawsuit, in keeping with its policy not to comment on pending litigation. The LVPPA has also not commented on the suit. 

What comes next?

The case is currently assigned to Judge Gloria M. Navarro, a Barack Obama (D) appointee. No hearings have been scheduled yet. The case name and number are DePierro v. Las Vegas Police Protective Association Metro, Inc., 2:20-cv-01481.

What we’re reading

The big picture

Number of relevant bills by state

We are currently tracking 102 pieces of legislation dealing with public-sector employee union policy. On the map below, a darker shade of green indicates a greater number of relevant bills. Click here for a complete list of all the bills we’re tracking. 

Number of relevant bills by current legislative status

Number of relevant bills by partisan status of sponsor(s) 

Recent legislative actions

  • California AB2850: This bill would specify that the Public Employment Relations Board has jurisdiction to enforce statutory provisions governing employer-employee relations within the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District.
    • Democratic sponsorship.
    • Senate Appropriations Committee reported favorably Aug. 20. Read second time and ordered to third reading.
  • Virginia HB5021: This bill would prohibit consideration of any action or discussion regarding the hiring, firing, or discipline of a local employee during collective bargaining negotiations. 
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced and referred to House Labor and Commerce Committee Aug. 18.
  • Virginia SB5027: This bill would establish that no local governmental entity is authorized to recognize or collectively bargain with a law enforcement employee union. Effective May 1, 2021, localities would have the authority to recognize such unions if a local ordinance allowing for such recognition is passed.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Senate Commerce and Labor Committee passed by indefinitely Aug. 19.
  • Virginia SB5078: This bill would prohibit municipalities from recognizing any labor union or association as the bargaining agent of any law enforcement agency.
    • Republican sponsorship.
    • Introduced and referred to Senate Commerce and Labor Committee Aug. 18. Hearing scheduled Aug. 19.