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 employees responsibility to know and request.
(If called to a meeting with management, read the following to management when the meeting begins.)
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.
Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:
The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The Employer must either:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a choice of (1) having the interview without representation or (2) ending the interview.
If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
Unions should encourage workers to assert their Weingarten rights. The presence of a steward can help in many ways. For example:
- The steward can help a fearful or inarticulate employee explain what happened.
- The steward can raise extenuating factors.
- The steward can advise an employee against blindly denying everything, thereby giving the appearance of dishonesty and guilt.
- The steward can help prevent an employee from making fatal admissions.
- The steward can stop an employee from losing his or her temper, and perhaps getting fired for insubordination.
- The steward can serve as a witness to prevent supervisors from giving a false account of the conversation.
Note: the NLRB generally does not defer charges alleging a violation of Weingarten rights. Nor are violations considered de minimus even if no employee is disciplined.