UNION UNFAIR PRACTICES; DEFENSES – Exhaustion of Administrative/Internal Remedies

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806.03000 – Exhaustion of Administrative/Internal Remedies

Charging party urges that exhaustion is an affirmative defense and waived if not raised in the answer. We disagree. The requirement to exhaust internal union remedies is plainly stated in union’s Standing Rules and thus became part of charging party’s burden to prove. Charging party failed to prove he had exhausted the internal union remedies contained in union’s Standing Rules. Moreover, California courts have long held that exhaustion of the administrative remedy is a jurisdictional prerequisite. The doctrine of failure to exhaust administrative remedies may be raised at any point in the proceedings, even if it was not raised in the answer. The ALJ properly analyzed union’s internal disciplinary procedures under the only restriction applied to them under section 3515.5 of the Dills Act, that they be reasonable and reasonably applied. We agree with the ALJ that the union’s procedures, including the requirement under its Standing Rules, that a member fully exhaust internal union remedies before resorting to external proceedings, are reasonable. As the ALJ pointed out, the Standing Rules do not prevent a member from resorting to judicial proceedings, it merely requires that he exhaust union remedies and give the union a full opportunity to reach an internal resolution of any dispute regarding its members. The fact that an administrative body has decided other cases involving other plaintiffs on similar facts against plaintiff's position does not make an administrative appeal futile nor do such facts excuse a litigant from exhausting available administrative remedies. We find the evidence regarding union’s denial of the other appeals unpersuasive on the futility claim. Charging party adduced no details regarding those other cases or how union’s actions in those cases were unreasonable.