If you are approached or called for an “informal” chat about your work, know that the following applies to you:
NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States that ruled that employees in unionized workplaces have the right under the National Labor Relations Act to the presence of a union steward during any management inquiry that the employee reasonably believes may result in discipline.
The Supreme Court decided that the following rules apply:
Rule 1: The employee must make a clear request for a union representative of their choice before or during the interview. The employee cannot be punished for making this request.
Rule 2: After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose from among three options:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and (prior to the interview continuing) the representative has a chance 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 the employer denies the 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.