Employees do not have to be alone when they are questioned by an employer in a situation that might result in discipline. An employees’ right to representation was established in a 1975 United States Supreme Court decision, NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc. Since that case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as “Weingarten Rights.” for public sector employees.
The eight key points of Weingarten Rights are:
1.) Union Members Have The Right To A Union Representative: If non is available, members can demand to postpone.
2.) The Right To Know The Subject Matter Of The Interview: Members and stewards have the right to know what specific subjects and issues will be addressed in the interview; management should not be allowed to go on a “fishing expedition.”
3.) The Right To Have A Private Conversation: The steward must be allowed to take members aside for a private pre-interview conversation before questioning begins and at any time during the meeting with management.
4.) The Right To Speak During The Interview: The steward is allowed to speak during the interview. During this meeting, the steward is considered to be the same status as management.
5.) The Right To Ask For Clarification: The steward can ask that the supervisor clarify a question so that the worker can understand what is being said.
6.) The Right To Counsel: Before questions have been asked, the steward can give advice on how to answer the questions.
7.) The Right To Inform: When the questioning ends, the steward can provide additional information.
8.) The Limits of Weingarten: If Weingarten Rights are honored, stewards have no right to tell members to lie or to refuse to answer questions.
If a manager tells you about a meeting, ask if you need a steward or union organizer present. You may also read or recite the following language:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions; I respectfully request that my union representation, officer or steward be present at the meeting. Until my representation arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”
Click here for a document with a simplified Weingarten Rights overview.