The name “Weingarten” comes from the 1975 Supreme Court case (J.
Weingarten, Inc. v. NLRB) where this concept was first defined. A Weingarten
meeting is an investigative meeting between one or more management officials
and one or more bargaining unit employees.
- An employee is entitled to union representation when all of the
following conditions are met:
- The employee must be questioned in connection with an
- The employee must reasonably believe he or she may be
disciplined as a result of the answers; and
- The employee must request representation.
- The meeting or examination does not have to occur in connection with
a formal investigation. An “investigation” occurs even when a supervisor
seeks information to determine whether discipline should be taken
against an employee. For example, an employee is suspected of being late
for work, and the supervisor calls him or her into the office to
determine if that is the case and, if so, why. This would be considered
a Weingarten meeting.
- Upon request, the meeting should be postponed for a reasonable time
so a representative can make necessary arrangements to attend.
- If a supervisor initiates a meeting with an employee that qualifies
as a Weingarten meeting, and the employee requests a Union
representative upon learning the nature of the meeting, the supervisor
conducting the meeting has the following alternatives:
- Grant the request.
- Discontinue the interview.
- Offer the employee the choice between continuing the interview
without a representative or having no interview at all.
- End the meeting until the exclusively recognized union is given
an opportunity to be represented at any further investigation of the
- When appropriate, assure employee that no disciplinary action
will result from the meeting and continue the investigation.
- The role of the union representative is to consult with, to advise
and to otherwise assist the employee during the process but the employee
should be the one to answer questions. The union representative is there
to help the employee remember or bring out relevant information and to
- The Union representative is entitled to ask questions that are
reasonably related to the matter being discussed, and may raise relevant
points that help the employee tell his or her side of the story.
- As with Formal Discussions, the union representative does not have
the right to disrupt the meeting or prevent management from carrying out
the investigation. He or she may not answer for the employee, but they
may confer privately before the employee answers the questions.
- Union representatives are not present to tell the employee not to
cooperate or not to provide a statement. Employees are required to
participate in official administrative investigations.
- Performance counseling and evaluation sessions practically never
warrant representation. These are not formal discussions because an
employee’s performance is not a general condition of employment; the
subject matter is very specific and personal to him or her. These types
of meetings do not meet Weingarten criteria because the supervisor is
providing feedback and guidance rather than asking questions and
receiving answers that could reasonably result in discipline.
- The Statute only requires that employees be advised of their
Weingarten Rights annually; however, some collective bargaining
agreements have language which requires management to inform employees,
prior to questioning, of their rights to union representation. Check the
local agreement to see if such language exists.