High court to hear SAG suit

Actress seeks damages from union

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday it would decide if the Screen Actors Guild breached its duty of fair representation by refusing to clear a part-time actress for work after she could not prepay full union dues.

The justices said they would hear an appeal by Naomi Marquez, who in 1994 had successfully auditioned for a small part in the television series “Medicine Ball.”

She was told she had to pay about $500 in union initiation fees and dues to the labor organization. Marquez, who was to receive about $550 for her work on the show, said she could not afford to pay in advance.

When the dispute could not be worked out in time, the show’s producer hired another actress to replace Marquez, and filming took place Sept. 8, 1994.

That day, the Screen Actors Guild faxed a letter to the producers, saying it would have no objection to Marquez working in the show. The letter arrived too late to help Marquez.

She then sued, claiming the union breached its duty of fair representation owed to all workers when it negotiated a collective bargaining agreement requiring membership in the union.

Marquez also cited the demand that she pay the full amount of the dues and the failure to give her a 30-day grace period, when she would have been paid for her performance.

A federal judge and a U.S. appeals court ruled against Marquez. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in its term that starts in October.

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