Every OEA member is guaranteed the right to union representation during an investigatory interview conducted by his or her employer if the interview could in any way lead to discipline, including termination, or could affect the member’s personal or working conditions. In this situation, the member should request that an association representative or officer be present at the meeting. Without this representation, the member has the right to choose not to answer any questions per the United States Supreme Court case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975). It is very important to remember that the employer does not have to advise an employee of his or her rights under Weingarten.
OEA suggests that representation occur any time the purpose of the meeting is any of the following:
- Any type of disciplinary action;
- Investigation meeting;
- Infraction of a work rule or board policy;
- Questions concerning a request or use of any leave;
- Allegations of abuse; and
- Parental, student or community complaint.
Members should ask their principal, supervisor, or other management personnel to clarify the purpose of the meeting to determine if association representation is needed. We recommend using the following language to ensure your rights:
If the discussion I am being asked to enter into could in any way lead to my discipline or termination or affect my personal working conditions, I ask that an Association Representative or Officer be present at the meeting. Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions. That is my right under a U.S. Supreme Court decision called Weingarten.
When the employee makes the request for an association representative to be present, the employer can do any of the following: (1) stop questioning until the representative arrives; (2) cancel the interview; or (3) tell the employee it will cancel the interview unless the employee voluntarily gives up his or her rights to representation. No member should ever waive their right to representation.
For more information about your rights as an OEA member, speak to your Labor Relations Consultant.