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Union’s Handbill About ‘Mattress Bugs’ and Manhattan Lodge Is Not Defamation, Courtroom Guidelines – New York Regulation Journal (registration)


Handbills that stated a Manhattan lodge was “infested with mattress bugs” however then provided one other definition of the pests expressed protected speech and weren’t defamatory in a labor dispute between the lodge’s administration and a painters’ union, a state judge ruled.

Manhattan Supreme Courtroom Justice Richard Braun granted the union’s movement to dismiss The New Yorker Lodge’s grievance for defamation. He stated the handbills handed out by members of District No. 9 of the New York Worldwide Union of Painters and Allied Trades weren’t malicious and expressed opinions which are constitutionally protected.

The handbills have been distributed outdoors the lodge in 2014 at a time when the union and the administration of the New Yorker have been embroiled in a dispute over whether or not unionized painters have been being paid the right prevailing wage.

They said, “NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC” adopted by “THE New Yorker HOTEL—INFESTED WITH BED BUGS.” In considerably smaller sort, however nonetheless in bold-face print, the handbills then stated, “THE WORD BED BUGS IS DEFINED AS ONE WHO SUCKS THE FINANCIAL BLOOD FROM ITS WORKERS” and defined that staff weren’t being paid what they believed have been correct wages. The handbills additionally included pictures or drawings of mattress bugs, Braun’s famous in his Jan. 27 ruling.

He wrote in New Yorker Lodge Administration v. District Council No. 9 New York IUPAT, 158878/2014, that unions have a sure latitude beneath federal and state regulation and courtroom precedents to make use of “intemperate, abusive or insulting language” whereas engaged in labor disputes with administration.

District Council No. 9 was doing simply that with its handbills, he stated.

“The handbills right here can’t be understood to incorporate a defamatory falsehood, however merely the kind of excessive rhetoric typically related to labor disputes,” Braun wrote, citing the U.S. Supreme Courtroom’s ruling in Previous Dominion Department No. 496, Nationwide Affiliation of Letter Carriers v. Austin, 418 U.S. 283 (1974).

“The truth that defendant was making an attempt to strain plaintiff and painting it in a unfavorable mild with respect to its labor practices doesn’t imply defendant was appearing maliciously as that time period applies to expression in labor disputes.”

The decide added that, “The rights of a union to talk freely on behalf of its staff have to be upheld so long as the speech is non-defamatory. Freedom of speech, meeting, the press, and faith are essential bulwarks of a very democratic society.”

Michael Volpe, a associate at Venable in Manhattan, and head of its labor and employment follow group, and Venable counsel Nicholas Reiter represented The New Yorker Lodge.

Steven Kern and Lauren Kugielska, attorneys at Barnes, Iaccarino & Shepherd in Elmsford, argued for District Council No. 9.



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