Your Rights during Investigatory
Interviews with the Company...
otherwise known as - - -
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) gives employees the right
to assistance from union representation during investigatory
interviews. Although not explicit in the Act, the right was
declared by the US Supreme Court in 1975 in NLRB vs. J.
Weingarten, Inc. The rules the court announced are known as
Employees sometime confuse the Weingarten rules with the Miranda
rules. However there is a big difference in the two rules. Under
Miranda rules police who question criminal suspects MUST notify
them of their right to remain silent and to have an attorney
present during questioning. Under Weingarten employers have NO
obligation to inform the employees of their rights to union
representation. The employee must ask for union representation in
An investigatory interview occurs when:
1. Management questions an employee to obtain information and
2. The employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other
adverse consequence may result from what he or she says.
Investigatory interviews relate to such subjects as:
* compliance with work rules
* damage to company property
* falsification of records
* lateness, poor attitude
* poor work performance
* violations of safety rules
Not every discussion with management is an investigatory
interview. For example, a supervisor may speak to an employee
about the proper way to do a job. Even if the supervisor asks the
employee questions, this is not an investigatory interview as the
use or possibility of discipline is remote.
However a routine conversation changes character if a supervisor
becomes dissatisfied with an employee’s answers and takes a
hostile attitude. If this happens, the meeting becomes an
investigatory interview and Weingarten rules apply.
When a supervisor calls and employee to the office to announce a
warning or other discipline that has already been decided it is
not an investigatory meeting since the supervisor is just
informing the employee of a previously arrived-at decision. Such a
meeting becomes an investigatory interview, however, if the
supervisor asks questions that are related to the subject matter
of the discipline.
Having a steward present can help in many ways. The steward can:
* Serve as a witness to prevent supervisors from giving a false
account of the conversation
* Object to intimidating tactics or confusing questions
* Advise (when appropriate) and employee against blindly denying
everything. Thereby giving the appearance of dishonesty and guilt.
* Help an employee to avoid making fatal admissions.
* Warn an employee against losing his or her temper.
* Raise extenuating factors
The Employee Rights under Weingarten rules are as follows:
1. The employee may request union representation before or during
the interview. Remember the company does not have to offer union
2. After the request, the employer must choose from among three
1. Grant the request and delay questioning until the union
2. Deny the request and end the interview immediately.
3. Give the employee a choice of:
* Having the interview without representation (usually a mistake
or the wrong choice) or
* Ending the interview (best choice if no union steward is coming)
1. If the employer denies the request for union representation and
questions the employee, it commits an unfair labor practice and
THEN the employee may refuse to answer.
Although some supervisors sometimes try to assert that the only
function of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe
the discussion in other words be a SILENT witness this is WRONG.
The steward has the right to counsel the employee during the
interview and to assist the employee to present the facts. Legal
cases have established the following rights and obligations of the
1. When the steward arrives, the supervisor must inform the
employee and the steward of the subject matter of the interview:
for example, the type of misconduct, which is being investigated.
(The supervisor does not, however, have to reveal management’s
2. The steward can take the employee aside for a private
pre-interview conference before the questioning begins.
3. The steward can speak during the interview. (But, the steward
has no right to bargain over the purpose of the interview or to
obstruct the interview.)
4. The steward can advise the employee not to answer questions
that are abusive, misleading, badgering, confusing or harassing.
5. When the questioning ends, the steward can provide information
to justify the employee’s conduct.
If called to a meeting with management, read the following
statement to management BEFORE the meeting starts!!
"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined
or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I
respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or
steward be present at this meeting. Without representation
I choose not to participate in this discussion."