Danbury Hatters in Sweden: A U.S. Perspective on the Available Remedies and Sanctions for Employers Who Suffer Unfair Labor Practices by Labor Unions
The International Journal of Comparative Labour Law and Industrial Relations 30, no. 3 (2014): 339-356.
25 Pages Posted: 16 Mar 2014 Last revised: 29 Aug 2014
Date Written: 2014
The European Court of Justice Laval quartet of cases held that worker collective actions that impacted freedom of services and establishment in the EU violated EU law. After Laval, The Swedish Labour Court imposed “exemplary,” or punitive damages, on labour unions for violating EU law. This article contributes to this discussion with a US perspective on the issue of punitive damages for workers’ violations of rules corresponding to strikes and similar collective actions. The US’ experience warns against the imposition of punitive damages. Punitive damages may not only be unfair for workers, but may cause unions to become too risk adverse and, in this manner, lead them to fail to adequately represent workers. Moreover, workers’ collective actions should be understood as activities commensurate with market freedoms, absent additional showings of violent or similar means by the collective actors. The Swedish Labour Court's decision therefore seems to fare ill for equity, freedom of association, markets and Social Europe.
Keywords: EU, European Union, Laval, European Court of Justice, Swedish Labour Court, punitive damages, collective action, workers, labor law, comparative law, international law
JEL Classification: K30, K31, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation