A federal appeals court in Philadelphia has ruled in favor of approximately 2,000 Cintas employee-partners who filed a class-action lawsuit against UNITE HERE for unlawfully violating their rights under the federal Driver’
s Privacy Protection Act.
The decision issued September 9, 2008 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit upholds a lower court’s findings that the union illegally obtained the license plate numbers from employee-partners working at Cintas Corporation’s Emmaus, PA facility - as well as some of their friends and family members - in order to access home addresses and other personal information. The information was then used as part of the union’s organizing efforts.
The court imposed a minimum of $5 million in damages, which will be divided among the plaintiffs, plus attorneys’ fees.
The appellate court also raised the possibility that the $5 million award against the union could be higher. First, the appellate court ruled that the union could be held liable for additional damages arising out of the union’s multiple uses of personal information. Second, the appellate court reversed the district court’s denial of punitive damages and sent that matter back for further determination. This could result in millions of dollars more in damages, if successful.
“The ruling is a victory - not only for the rights of Cintas employee-partners whose rights were clearly violated as part of the union’s organizing campaign - but for all persons whose personal information is obtained through illegal tactics,” said Paul Rosen, Esq., who represented Cintas employee-partners during the proceedings.
There were also thousands of names illegally obtained by the union that were not Cintas employees.
The lawsuit was originally filed in June 2004 after union organizers began showing up uninvited at the homes of Cintas employee-partners in Pennsylvania.
The 2,000 plaintiffs, who will receive millions of dollars because of the union’s illegal tactics, are among the very group that UNITE HERE has targeted as part of its 5-year-old organizing campaign against Cintas.
This is the second multi-million dollar decision rendered against UNITE HERE related to its organizing tactics. In 2006, a unanimous jury in Northern California found that UNITE HERE had defamed Sutter Health and its affiliated hospitals during another organizing campaign, and the union was ordered to pay over $17 million in damages.
About Cintas Corporation:
Headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio, Cintas Corporation (Nasdaq: CTAS) provides highly specialized services to businesses of all types. Cintas designs, manufactures and implements corporate identity uniform programs, and provides entrance mats, restroom supplies, promotional products, first aid and safety products, fire protection services and document management services to approximately 800,000 businesses. Cintas is a publicly held company traded over the Nasdaq National Market under the symbol CTAS, and is a Nasdaq-100 company and component of the Standard & Poor's 500 Index. The Company has achieved 38 consecutive years of growth in sales and earnings, to date.