"The First and Fourteenth Amendments protect the right of the members through their Brotherhood to maintain and carry out their plan for advising workers who are injured to obtain legal advice and for recommending specific lawyers."
That statement was written by United States Supreme Court Justice Black in a landmark United States Supreme Court decision on April 20, 1964 [see 377 U.S. 1 (1964)]. It became the law of the land on that day and remains the law of the land today.
This decision gives each and every officer and union member the right to inform another member of his or her union about the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) and to recommend that member to an attorney on the union's Designated Legal Counsel list.
This all important decision protects you from harassment, intimidation, or charges when you fulfill your moral obligation and the unions' goal of advising and helping one another in time of need. The time when that advice or help is most needed arises at the moment someone is injured or killed incidental to his or her railroad employment. When an employee is injured or killed by the railroad, the rights of the injured person or the family member of a deceased person are governed by the FELA, a very unique federal law. It is essential that the injured person has the benefit of immediate legal advice from Designated Legal Counsel approved by his union to protect his legal rights and to preserve the opportunity to maximize his recovery under the law.
In rendering his decision, Justice Black found that "Injured workers or their families often fell prey on the one hand to persuasive claims adjusters eager to gain a quick and cheap settlement for their railroad employers, or on the other hand, to lawyers either not competent to try these lawsuits against the able and experienced railroad counsel or too willing to settle a case for a quick dollar." [377 U.S. 4]
Railroaders feel comfortable going through their local chairmen to address grievances, their insurance company or representative for benefits, and to their legislative representatives about safety issues. It is just as important or more so that they are made aware of the Designated Legal Counsel approved by their union for legal advice or representation. The need for Designated Legal Counsel all too often comes at a time when there is pain, suffering, tragedy and much confusion. I am sure Justice Black recognized these circumstances when he affirmed each and every member's and officer's right to advise quickly those in need about Designated Legal Counsel and to recommend Designated Legal Counsel. We at Hoey & Farina are proud to be designated by seven of the railroad craft unions.
It is your right, duty and privilege to be able to recommend your members to Designated Legal Counsel – do it – you will be glad you did and your fellow workers will be provided the best of legal services and have the opportunity to live with dignity despite their injury. It is also your responsibility to inform Designated Legal Counsel about a fellow member who may be in need of legal assistance but does not know where to turn. Hoey & Farina, as Designated Legal Counsel of your union, will take the steps necessary to see that the injured member and the family have the opportunity to protect themselves under the law. We are here for you and your fellow members when you need us - 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-425-1212.