What are Weingarten Rights?
Weingarten Rights originate from the 1975 case called NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. in which the Supreme Court ruled that employees in unionized workplaces have the right to the presence of a union steward during any management inquiry that the employee reasonably believes may result in discipline.
Facts of the Case
A reported theft had been brought to the attention of the manager at a local Weingarten supermarket that an employee was taking money from the cash register. Upon review of surveillance cameras by an internal store investigator, it was determined that the employee in question was not taking money from the cash register. However, the store manager informed the investigator that the same employee had previously failed to pay for the full price of a box of chicken she had purchased. Both the store manager and investigator questioned the employee with regards to the new accusation. The employee repeatedly asked that her local union representative be present, but was denied by her manager each time. The employee later reported the incident to her shop steward and union, who filed an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). They argued that under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, employees have a right to have their union representative present during any inquiry where the employee’s job might be in jeopardy. The employer’s refusal to allow a union representative to be present during the questioning of the employee was an unfair labor practice.
The Supreme Court ruled that the following rules apply:
Rule 1: An employee must make a clear request for union representation before or during the interview. An employee cannot be punished for making this request.
Rule 2: Once an employee makes requests a union representative, an employer must choose from among three options:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until a union representative arrives and has an opportunity to consult privately with the employee;
- Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
- Give the employee a clear choice between having the interview without representation or ending the interview.
Rule 3: If an employer denies an employee’s request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it commits an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.
We encourage you to learn more about and exercise your Weingarten Rights where appropriate. For more information,visit http://www.ufcw1262.org/know-your-rights/.