California Supreme Court to Address Injunction Standards for On-Site Labor Activity

The California Supreme Court will address whether certain California statutes, which set strict standards for obtaining injunctions against labor unions, violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution because they afford preferential treatment to speech concerning labor disputes. Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8, No. S185544 (Cal. 2010).

Lower Court Decision

The California Court of Appeal previously held that the statutes were unconstitutional because they impose requirements for obtaining an injunction against labor protesters that do not apply to non-labor protests. Ralphs Grocery Co. v. United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 8, 186 Cal. App. 4th 1078 (Cal. Ct. App. 2010). (For a more detailed discussion of this opinion, see California Court Strengthens Property Owners' Right to Exclude Labor Unions). The Court of Appeal ruled that labor protestors would be held to the same injunction standards applied to all other protestors.

Public Forum

In addition to the injunction issue, the California Supreme Court will address whether the parking area and walkway in front of the entrance to the plaintiff’s retail store, which is part of a larger shopping center, constitute a “public forum.” The Court of Appeal held that those areas were not “public;” therefore, the property owner could limit the speech permitted in those areas.

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The California Supreme Court’s decision will have broad implications for California property owners, labor activities, and the remedies available for addressing on-site labor activities. In the meantime, property owners should evaluate the risk of on-site labor activity, and, if confronted with such activity, should contact legal counsel. Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to answer inquiries regarding this case and other workplace developments.