Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Coppage (Petitioner), was found guilty of violating the Kansas state law that prohibited employers from asking employees not to join or remain a member of a labor union as a condition of employment.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. States are prohibited from the arbitrary interference with a person’s freedom to contract because of the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).
The diverse character of such motives, and the impossibility of penetrating into the hearts of men and ascertaining the truth, precludes all such inquiries as impracticable and futile.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can a state prevent an employer from making employment conditioned upon an individual’s status as a union member?
Held. No. Employment relations are the same as a contractual arrangement. Both contracting parties have the right to terminate the employment ‘at-will’ for any reason. At the onset, the employee has the choice to refuse employment if union membership is more valued than the position offered.
Discussion. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) indicates that the decision of a person to accept employment, while refraining from joining a union is not infringing upon any freedom. Both the employer and employee are free to choose how their relationship will be defined.