Weingarten rights guarantee an employee the right to union representation during an investigatory interview. These rights, established by the Supreme Court, in 1975 in the case of J’. Weingarten Inc,, must be claimed by the employee. The supervisor has no obligation to inform an employee that s/he is entitled to union representation.
An investigatory interview is one in which a UPS supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or discharge may result from what he/she says, the employee has the right to request union representation.
When an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:
Rule 1 – The employee must make a clear request for Teamster representation before or during the interview. The employee can’t be punished for making this request.
Rule 2 – After the employee makes the request, the supervisor has 3 options. S/he must either:
- Grant the request and delay the interview 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
Rule 3 – If the supervisor denies the request and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employee cannot be disciplined for such refusal but is required to sit there until the supervisor terminates the interview. Leaving before this happens may constitute punishable insubordination.
The following is an example of a statement which an employee can either read or present to management prior to a meeting with management where the employee believes that discipline or termination may result:
“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 Teamster union representative, officer, or steward be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”