What you say can and will be used against you.
Employees have specific rights when confronted by employers who want to question them for alleged wrongdoing. These rights were developed by the U.S. Supreme Court in the Weingarten case in 1975.
As with any rules, there are certain things that it covers, and there are certain things that it does not cover.
- Your right is not automatic. YOU MUST ASK FOR IT. Your employer is not under a duty to advise you of your rights.
- You have to request the union representation from the person who is doing the questioning, not from your immediate supervisor or your union representative. The questioner must be told that you do not want to proceed without union representation.
- You do not have the right to a union representative if the interview is only for the purpose of informing of discipline already decided upon by the employer. However, in that case, you only need to listen, you do not have to answer any further questions by your employer. Further, you can ask for union representation under those circumstances, but the employer is not required to give you union representation.
- The rule does not apply to the normal everyday conversations between a supervisor and an employee, which pertains to performance of job duties and normal work performance.
- The employer’s rights –
Once you request union representation, your employer has three options:
- He can grant your request and bring in a union representative.
- He can discontinue the interview and proceed with the employer’s own investigation without your participation.
- The employer can offer you the choice of proceeding without union representation.
While an employee may waive the right to union representation, it is highly recommended that an employee not do so. Most of us feel that we are not guilty and that we are adequately able to represent ourselves. However, in the emotionally charged situation where you are being questioned by your employer, it is very possible that you will say things that the employer has no knowledge of which will incriminate you or will cause the employer to undertake a new investigation regarding other conduct.