Ninth Circuit Rejects Challenge to Home Care Provider Union Dues Deductions

On June 8, 2022, the Ninth Circuit issued a published opinion dismissing claims that deducting voluntary union dues from the paychecks of home care providers violates the First Amendment and the Medicaid Act.  The plaintiffs in the two related cases, who were represented by anti-union advocacy groups, argued that the deduction of voluntarily authorized union dues violates the First Amendment, as well as the Medicaid Act’s “anti-reassignment provision,” which prohibits Medicaid providers from assigning their right to payment from the federal government to other entities.  If the plaintiffs had prevailed, home care workers would have been prevented from paying their union dues using the method that is most convenient and economical for them, which is the method routinely used by workers in thousands of industries across the country.

The Medicaid Act’s anti-reassignment provision was adopted decades ago in order to prevent fraud and abuse in the Medicaid program that had occurred when claims were sold and then falsely inflated by the purchasers.  It was not intended to cover routine payroll deductions like these.  But the courts did not have to reach the merits of the issue because in the two cases below, Polk v. SEIU 2015 et al. and Quirarte v. United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME et al., the federal district courts dismissed the Medicaid Act claims as a threshold matter, holding that Congress did not intend to give providers a right of action under the anti-reassignment provision.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the district courts’ rulings.

Altshuler Berzon LLP represented the unions that were the defendants in each of the cases, SEIU Local 2015 and United Domestic Workers of America, AFSCME.

You can read the Ninth Circuit’s decision here.