What is an investigatory interview?
An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks as employee to defend his or her conduct. If an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from what he or she says, the employee has a right to request un¬ion representation.
These interviews usually relate to subjects such as:
- Work Performance
- Violation of Work
- Poor Attitude
- Falsification of Records
In these situations and upon the employee's request for a union representative the employer cannot require the em-ployee to meet without a union representative present. The failure to observe an employee's Weingarten right consti-tutes a violation on the National Labor Relations Act and makes any resulting discipline of the employee unlawful.
Rules to follow:
1. You must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. You cannot be punished for making this request.
2. After you have made the request, the employer must choose from among three options.
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a choice of: (1) having the interview without representation or (2) ending the interview immediately.
If a supervisor denies your request for union representation and continues to ask questions, he or she is committing an unfair labor practice and you have the right to refuse to answer.
Your Rights During an interview:
You have a right to make a clear request for union representation before or during an interview. Supervisors will often assert that the only role of a union representative at an interview is to observe the discussions. However, the Supreme Court has clearly acknowledged a union representative's right to assist and counsel workers during these interviews.
The Weingarten rights from the Supreme Court grant workers the following procedures:
- Once your union representative arrives, the supervisor must inform the representative of the subject matter of the meeting and what conduct and discipline are being considered.
- The union representative must be allowed to take the worker aside for a private pre-interview conference before the questioning begins.
- The union representative must he allowed to speak during the interview. The union representative, however, does nor have the right to bargain over the purpose of the interview.
- The union representative can request that the supervisor clarify a question so the worker can understand what is being asked.
- After a question is asked, the union representative can give advice to the worker on how to answer.
When the questioning ends, the union representative can provide information to the supervisor. It must he emphasized that if the Weingarten rights are complied with, union representatives have no right to tell workers not to answer questions or to give false answers.