Employees are entitled to have a Union representative present during an investigatory interview that may lead to discipline. Management has no obligation to inform you of this right. It is up to you to assert your right to Union representation.
The Union representative helps protect the employee from coercion or intimidation, and serves as an advocate and a witness to what occurs in the meeting.
Remember, if you are called into a meeting with any management representative and have reason to believe that disciplinary action may result, read them your Weingarten rights.
"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 representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."
Weingarten Rights FAQs
Q. What are “Weingarten” rights?
Employees have the right to a Union representative at an investigatory meeting if they reasonably believe that the investigation could lead to disciplinary action. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld these rights in the 1975 case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc.
Q. Must the employer inform the employee of his/her rights?
No. The member must request a representative; the employer has no obligation to inform the employee of that right.
Q. Do workers have the right to Union representation at every meeting regarding discipline?
No, only investigatory meetings – i.e., meetings in which the employer will be gathering information. The employer is not required to include a Union representative in non-investigatory meetings, for example, a meeting whose only purpose is to issue discipline already decided upon.
Q. What is the best way for the employee to find out if the meeting could lead to discipline against him/her?
Ask the employer: “Could this meeting lead to discipline against me?
Q. What can the Union representative do in the meeting?
The Union representative has the right:
- to know the subject of the investigatory hearing;
- to confer with the member prior to the hearing;
- to speak/participate in the hearing.
BUT, the representative cannot argue the case; this is not a grievance hearing.
Q. What should I do if the employer denies my request for Union representation, and orders me to attend the meeting anyway?
It is probably best to refuse to participate. Attending the meeting alone, without Union representation, offers many risks and few benefits.