During fact-finding or investigatory interviews employees have a right to union representation when the employee feels that the information from such a meeting could lead to disciplinary action against them. This is commonly referred to as a Weingarten right. Management is not required to inform an employee of this right. The employee is responsible to make the request for representation as soon as they become aware of the situation. When request for union representation is made, management should postpone the meeting a reasonable period of time so a union representative can attend. If management continues questioning, the employee should not walk out of the meeting but simply repeat the request for representation.
Upon arrival of the union representative, management must inform the representative of the purpose of the meeting. The representative has the right to speak privately to the employee prior to the start of questioning. During the interview, the representative may ask clarifying questions, request copies of supporting documentation and otherwise assist the employee through the process. However, neither the employee nor the representative can impede the fact-finding interview.
Our collective bargaining agreement states, in part:
Article 1, Section 2. Formal Discussions
a. The Union has a statutory right to be represented at any formal discussion between one or more representatives of the agency and one or more employees in the unit or their representatives concerning any grievance or any personnel policy or practices or other general condition of employment. “Represented” includes not only the right to be present at the meeting but the right to fully participate in the discussion.
b. This is not intended to include discussion on routine work assignments.
c. The Union has the right to reasonable advance notification and to determine who will serve as the Union’s representative at such meeting. If the Union does not appear at the meeting, it has waived the right to be represented and the meeting may be held without the Union.