The Employee’s Right to Union Representation
When Questioned by Management
A bargaining unit member is entitled to union representation if he/she is questioned by management and he/she reasonably believes the interview could result in discipline. This right is derived from a decision of the National Relations Board which was affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court. NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251 (1975). These rights, known as “Weingarten Rights”, have also been recognized and adopted by the Massachusetts Department of Labor Relations and Massachusetts courts.
- When a supervisor or other member of management questions an employee about a matter involving his/her work, a workplace event, or even an off-duty event, the employee may have a right to union representation.
- If the employee reasonably believes, at any time before or during the interview, that the questions may lead to discipline, the employee should tell the employer representative that he/she wants union representation.
- The employer is not required by law to offer to call a union representative. The employee must make the request.
- When such a request is made, the interviewer should not begin or continue until the union representative is present. When the representative arrives, the employee has a right to confer with him/her prior to meeting with the supervisor. The representative may assist the employee during the interview and may make additions, suggestions or clarifications after the interview.
- The employer may decline to proceed with the interview and conduct its investigation without interviewing the employee.
- If the employer does not allow the employee to have representation the union may file a prohibited practice charge.
INTERROGATION RIGHTS STATEMENT
I refuse to submit to (or continue) this interrogation because I reasonably believe it could result in discipline. I demand my right to consult with a union representative and to have union representation present on my behalf before this interrogation continues.
Additionally, if the employer questions a bargaining unit member about possible criminal conduct, the employee should immediately consult a private attorney for advice as there may be additional protections available under state and/or federal law.