Union Representation at Meetings Between
the Employee and Management
The "Weingarten Right" applies to investigatory meetings with employees related to potential discipline in the employment context only.
A 1975 U.S. Supreme Court Ruling in National Labor Relations Board v. J. Weingarten, Inc. set forth an employee's right to union representation during employer-conducted investigatory interviews related to the person's employment.
The "Weingarten Right" Applies When The Meeting is an Investigatory Meeting
The Employer questions the employee to obtain information that could be used as a basis for discipline for alleged misconduct in the performance of the employee's assigned duties. This does not include other discussions regarding work performance or meetings in which discipline simply is announced without further discussion.
The employee's perception is relevant. To invoke the Weingarten Right, the employee must reasonably believe that discipline or other adverse consequences might result from what s/he says during the interview.
The employee must request union representation. The employer is not required to advise an employee of the Weingarten Right. If union representation is requested, the employer must grant the request and delay questioning until a union representative is available.
If the employer denies the request and proceeds, s/he may be charged with an unfair labor practice and the results of the interview may not be used on subsequent actions.
Conducting an Investigatory Meeting for Purposes of Employee Discipline
Management must inform the employee and union representative (if one has been requested) of the subject of the investigation.
The union representative may consult briefly with employee prior to meeting.
Factual questions should be directed to and answered by the employee.
The Union Representative
- Should act as an observer.
- May assist employee in communicating the facts, as they understand them.
- Should be given an opportunity to comment prior to the conclusion of the interview.
- May not interfere with or obstruct the investigation. The supervisor should maintain control of the discussion and should not be subjected to abuse. If the union representative becomes disruptive, advise the employee that:
- the interview will end and a decision may be made without the benefit of the employee's "side of the story," or
- the interview may continue without the union representative present if agreeable with the employee.
If a request for representation is denied in a non-investigatory meeting and the character of a meeting changes to an investigatory interview, the Employer must stop the meeting and reschedule it for a date and time when representation can be arranged.