| IAFF Local 1826
Southwest Florida Professional Fire Fighters & Paramedics
THE WEINGARTEN RULE
An employee's right to representation
An employee may be represented by the union at an investigatory interview with his or her supervisor when the employee reasonably believes that the interview may lead to a disciplinary action.
U.S. Supreme Court ruling:
The rights of employees to the presence of union representatives during investigatory interviews was announced by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1975 in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. Since that case involved a clerk being investigated by the Weingarten Company, these rights have become known as Weingarten Rights.
What is an investigatory interview?
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 a right to request union representation. Investigatory interviews usually relate to subjects such as:
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:
If the supervisor denies the request for union representation and continues to ask questions, he or she commits an unfair labor practice. The employee should participate in the meeting "under protest".
Rights of Stewards
Supervisors often assert that the only role of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion, i.e., to be a silent witness. The Supreme Court, however, clearly acknowledged a steward's right to assist and counsel workers during the interview. Decided cases establish the following procedures:
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