Hi, thanks for submitting your question today and sorry to hear about the employment issue you are having. From my understanding, you have a contractual right to representation in a fitness for duty exam and the union has refused to represent you in the matter; and in fact the president mislead you to believe that any hearing would be delayed until after a second medical opinion was received.
And you would like to know whether you have a potential claim and, if so, is this the type of claim an attorney would take on contingency.
From the fact that you give, it does sound as if you'd have a claim against the union for failure to represent you. Generally a union has a duty represent its members in a manner that is not arbitrary and capricious. Yet in this case you not only found that the president had mislead you to believe that action would be taken, but when it cam down to there being a hearing, the union wouldn't even represent you at the hearing. The critical question in determining whether a union has breached its duty of fair representation is whether its conduct was arbitrary, discriminatory, or in bad faith, so that it undermined the fairness or integrity of the process.
Your union appeared to act arbitrary in not accepting your case - namely you had a definite right to representation at the hearing and it plainly refused to represent you without so much as an explanation apparently.
So, with the detail you given me, I would think there is a likely claim for failure to represent against the union.
The second question you ask is whether cases like this are taken on a contingency. Generally they are not...I suspect because there simply aren't lawyers that do much of this work. For example, if you were a private sector worker and this happened - you'd file a charge against the union with the National Labor Relations Board and they would assign you one of their staff attorneys - there would be no charge. But for public sector workers, like yourself, there is no agency to turn to that will represent you. Likewise, the remedy in the matter could be anything from forcing the union to fairly represent you to giving you some cash...so a lawyer working on a contingency - even if he is successful - may not receive much. I'm not saying you unequivocally will not find someone to represent you on a contingency - but I'm doubtful about it.
Let me know if you have any follow up questions or concerns. I'm happy to answer.
Yes, often times the local board members aren't really all that informed.
And the national president/board etc could advise him of the same.
I understand completely...your case does have merit in any event.
Yes, you'd file a grievance with the Texas state bar. here: http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=How_to_File_a_Complaint
You're welcome. Please leave a positive rating before you exit this chat as it is the only way I get credit for my answers. If you have any questions in the future regarding this matter come back to this thread and I'll be happy to answer. Thanks and good luck with the matter.
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