Do You Know Your Weingarten Rights?
As an employee represented by a union, it’s imperative that you understand one of your fundamental rights. In 1975, the United States Supreme Court in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. ruled that employees have a right to union representation at investigatory interviews or disciplinary meetings. This protection has become known as “Weingarten Rights”. These rights have to be claimed by the employee. Administrators have no obligation to inform you of your rights.
An investigatory interview or disciplinary meetings fall within the following:
- The questions being asked are accusatory in nature.
- The questions being asked are to elicit facts from the employee to support whether disciplinary action is to be taken against said employee.
- The employee has reason to believe this meeting could lead disciplinary action.
- The employee has reason to believe that this meeting could directly affect their working conditions.
Rule 1) The employee must clearly request union representation before or during the meeting. Employees can’t be punished for invoking their rights.
Rule 2) After the employee has made the request for union representation, the administrator has the following three options:
- Grant the request and reschedule the meeting for when a union representative has had the opportunity to consult with the employee and can be present.
- Deny the request and end the meeting immediately.
- Allow the employee the options of choosing to continue the meeting without representation or ending the meeting immediately.
Rule 3) If the administrator denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, he/she commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The administrator may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
What Do I Say?
Here’s Your Statement to Assert Weingarten Rights:
I am a member of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. I am requesting my right as granted under the U.S. Supreme Court “Weingarten” decision to have a union representative present during this meeting because I reasonably believe that it may result in disciplinary action against me or impact my personal working conditions. If my request for representation is denied, I may refrain from answering accusatory questions until such time I am properly represented.