Cedar Point Nursery, et al. v. Hassid, et al., United States Supreme Court, Case No. 20-107

On November 13, 2020, the United States Supreme Court granted certiorari in Cedar Point Nursery, et al. v. Hassid, et al., case number 20-107, a case involving a constitutional challenge to the Agricultural Labor Relations Board’s 45-year old access regulation, which is codified at California Code of Regulations, title 8, section 20900. The regulation is available at 8 CCR 20900.

The Board adopted the regulation after the Agricultural Labor Relations Act took effect in 1975 to give effect to the organizational rights granted to farmworkers under the landmark Act. The regulation is premised on the established principle, recognized in precedent developed under the National Labor Relations Act, that realization of the employees’ rights depends on their ability to learn the advantages or disadvantages of self-organization or union representation from others. In adopting the regulation, the Board found substantial barriers exist in communicating with farmworkers regarding their rights. These barriers are compounded by the ALRA’s rapid representation election provisions and the requirement that such elections only may occur during periods of seasonal “peak” employment. To address these issues, the access regulation allows union organizers limited access to an agricultural employer’s property during nonworking times for purposes of meeting and talking with agricultural employees and soliciting their support.

Growers promptly challenged the regulation on various grounds, including on the basis it violated the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause. The California Supreme Court rejected these arguments and affirmed the validity of the regulation in ALRB v. Superior Court (Pandol & Sons) (1976) 16 Cal.3d 392. Today, the limited access permitted by the regulation remains a vital tool in allowing union organizers to communicate with and inform farmworkers regarding their rights.

This action is brought by two California agricultural employers (Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company, Inc.) represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation. The growers renew the Takings argument rejected by the California Supreme Court in Pandol & Sons, contending the regulation constitutes a per se taking in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, the growers assert the regulation appropriates an easement over their properties that allows union organizers to enter their property without consent.

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California dismissed the growers’ claim. A split panel of the Ninth Circuit affirmed. (Cedar Point Nursery v. Shiroma (9th Cir. 2019) 923 F.3d 524.) The Ninth Circuit subsequently denied a petition for rehearing en banc, with eight judges dissenting. (Cedar Point Nursery v. Shiroma (9th Cir. 2020) 956 F.3d 1162.) The growers then filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the United States Supreme Court, which the Court granted.

The Supreme Court’s online docket for the case is available at United States Supreme Court Case Number 20-107, Cedar Point Nursery, et al., Petitioners v. Victoria Hassid, et al..

Transcripts of the public hearings conducted by the Board and at which the Board adopted the original access regulation, as well as the version of the regulation as originally adopted, are available on the Board’s Regulatory Activity page, under the Access Regulations heading.