According to the U.S. Supreme Court in NLRB v. J. Weingarten (1975), unionized employees have the right to have a union representative present during a management investigatory interview. An investigatory interview occurs when two things take place:
(1) management questions an employee to obtain information AND
(2) the employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result.
The court's guidelines are as follows:
1. The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
2. After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from three options. The employer must either:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or,
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a choice of (1) having the interview without representation, or (2) ending the interview.
3. If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to
ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has the right to refuse to answer if no union representative is present. The employee may not be discipline for such refusal.
Right to Adjourn the Meeting
In addition the Union contract in Art XVII.M covers rights to representation. It provides bargaining unit members with the additional right to adjourn a meeting when a union representative is not present during a meeting that results in disciplinary action. See the full Article.
- Unlike Miranda Rights the employer does not have to inform you of your union right to representation.
- If you are meeting with your chair/director or other administration representative in an investigatory interview and want representation, you must request it.
- If a union representative is not provided simply state, "I have nothing to say until my union representative is present." Any information you do provide, even without a union representative present, may be used against you.
- Once a union representative is present you are obligated to answer questions relevant to the employer's investigation. If you refuse to answer questions the employer could discipline you for insubordination. If you feel information you provide in the investigation could possibly lead to legal prosecution you may want to remain silent until a Garrity Warning is issued.
- If you are issued unfair discipline or discharged contact the union office as soon as possible to file initiate the grievance procedure.
Click here to access the Newsbriefs article on Weingarten Rights.