Employees have Weingarten rights only during investigatory interviews. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct.
If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has the right to request union representation. Management is not required to inform the employee of his/her Weingarten rights; it is the employee’s responsibility to know and request.
When the employee makes the request for a union representative to be present management has three options:
- it can stop questioning until the representative arrives,
- it can call off the interview,
- it can tell the employee that it will call off the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up his/her rights to a union representative (an option the employee should always refuse.)
Employers will often assert that the only role of a union representative in an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledges a representative’s right to assist and counsel workers during the interview.
What Can I Say?
If you find yourself in a meeting as described above and needing association representation, you can give the following statement:
“If this meeting could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I respectfully request that my Association representative be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.”
- DO NOT resign or abandon your location.
- All communication with your association is strictly confidential.
- Document the incident in writing.
- Keep any records that relate to the incident.
- Representation is strongly advised.
- Timelines are important. DON’T DELAY.
- Use your contract as a guide.
- Follow orders unless there is potential for personal injury. You can grieve the orders later.
Download a printable, wallet-sized version of this statement.