Employees who are covered by a labor union contract have special protections against unfair discipline in the workplace. One of the most important protections is the set of Weingarten Rules which gives unionized workers the right to have a representative present during any meeting that might reasonably lead to discipline.
Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:
Rule 1. The employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
Rule 2. After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options. The employer must:
a. Grant the request and delay the questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
b. Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
c. 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 for union representation and continues to ask questions, he or she commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The supervisor cannot discipline the employee for such a refusal.
UAPD recommends that employees facing an investigatory interview request union representation, and continue to request it even if the supervisor encourages the employee to proceed without a representative. The supervisor is not allowed to site the employee for insubordination for making that request, and the union can file an unfair labor practice charge if the supervisor denies the employee’s request for representation.