You have rights to representation!
We’ve been receiving reports in recent months that some Local 1428 members have been surprised by investigatory interviews with their managers.
These interactions appeared conversational at first, but the members later felt they were being asked a series of questions that were more like investigations than conversations.
Now, more than ever, it’s important that all members are aware of their Weingarten Rights.
What are Weingarten Rights?
Your Weingarten Rights state that an employee may make a clear request for union representation before or during an interview and will not be punished for such a request.
As a union member, you are legally entitled to use your Weingarten Rights if your employer begins to discuss a matter that could result in disciplinary action. You are also entitled to refuse to answer questions in that situation until your union representative arrives.
What is an investigatory interview?
An investigatory interview is any discussion with your employer that could result in discipline — for example, when management questions an employee to obtain information or when the employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says.
These interviews could relate to any number of issues, such as absenteeism, accidents, noncompliance with work rules, or insubordination, cash handling and employee purchases, among others.
Not every discussion with an employer is considered investigatory. If your boss wants to specify certain job requirements or announce a warning or discipline, this is not considered investigatory.
How do my Weingarten Rights protect me?
A discussion can become investigatory when your employer begins to question you about a matter for which discipline is administered. At that point you may exercise your Weingarten Rights and request that a union representative be present.
If your employer denies this request, the employer has violated your rights and you do not have to say a word.
If you do not invoke your rights or if you decide to waive your Weingarten Rights during an investigatory interview, you give up your legal protections.
Know your rights!
Whether you are a new union member or a veteran, it’s never the wrong time to review your rights as a member of Local 1428:
- If a discussion turns into an investigation, you can choose to exercise your Weingarten Rights.
- If you request that a union representative is present at your interview, do not discuss anything until they arrive.
- Do not sign any documents without a union representative present. If you do put anything in writing, make sure you receive a copy.
If your manager or a loss prevention representative begins to ask you questions that feel like an investigation, don’t hesitate to exercise your Weingarten Rights. When you do this in a respectful manner, it is nothing to feel guilty for, and you will have set a thoughtful example for your coworkers.