Judge Moves Case Forward Against Lifeguard Unions Trying to Keep Members In Against Their Will

Judge Moves Case Forward Against Lifeguard Unions Trying to Keep Members In Against Their Will

Judge Moves Case Forward Against Lifeguard Unions Trying to Keep Members In Against Their Will

In January of this year, twenty-two lifeguards filed suit against their union, known as the California State Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA), and the State of California, for forcing them to stay in the union and requiring them to continue to paying dues after the expressly demanded to be let out.

These cool dudes were trapped in an organization they didn’t support, subsidizing beliefs they don’t hold and paid dues every month for the privilege.  Not to mention that such forced association and subsidization is unconstitutional under U.S. Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling in Janus v. AFSCME, which classified mandatory union membership and dues for public employees as forced political speech — a violation of their constitutional rights.

As this case has progressed through the Courts, CSLEA has put up every legal roadblock it could in an attempt to deny justice to public sector employees.  One of these roadblocks was a Motion to Stay, filed by the union in February.  This type of legal motion allows the Court to temporarily prevent a case from moving forward until other similar cases have been decided.

The Freedom Foundation, representing the lifeguards, argued that this case is very unique.  Unlike other cases, the lifeguard were not only required to pay dues after they demanded out of the union, they were required to stay in the union itself – violating their First Amendment right to freedom of association.

Moreover, the Freedom Foundation argued that the lifeguards were forced to stay in the union for four years – with three more years remaining to date.  This ridiculous and egregious violation of constitutional rights should certainly trump any inconvenience to the union.

Judge Dana Sabraw, of the Southern District of California agreed.  In his concise, but striking opinion, Judge Sabraw held that the union “failed to prove either it will suffer hardship in the absence of a stay or that (the) plaintiffs will not suffer prejudice if a stay is imposed.”

This is a significant victory for the Freedom Foundation and its clients, the lifeguards.  The case will move forward and the Freedom Foundation will continue to fight for the constitutional rights of public employees.

The Freedom Foundation, which has offices in five U.S. states, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public policy organization specializing in exposing abuses of power by the nation’s government employee unions.


If the lifeguards prevail in their case, it will send a strong message to the unions and empower millions of public employees nationwide to just say no to union bullying.  And with the Freedom Foundation at their side, the lifeguards are safe swimming with the sharks.

Litigation Counsel
Shella Alcabes is a knowledgeable and creative litigator with over ten years of experience in commercial litigation. Ms. Alcabes joined Freedom Foundation because of her love of liberty and to fight for the protection of First Amendment rights. After graduating law school, Ms. Alcabes practiced for several years at one of the country’s preeminent firms, Morrison & Foerster LLP, in Los Angeles, and then made the cross-country move to a boutique litigation and bankruptcy firm in New York. At Morrison & Foerster LLP, Ms. Sadovnik handled multi-million and billion dollar cases including labor disputes with a large grocery store chain and the infamous Apple v. Samsung patent infringement case. She was also responsible for handling all aspects of complex commercial litigation, including conducting trial in Federal Court and drafting and arguing appellate briefs in the California Supreme Court, the Appellate Division of New York and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Ms. Alcabes received her B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles, where she was on the Loyola Law School Law Review. Ms. Alcabes was born in Ukraine and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was six years old. She is fluent in Russian, and proficient in both Hebrew and French. In her time off, she enjoys playing peek-a-boo with her toddler and Bar-B-Queuing with her husband.