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Weingarten Discussion - Investigative Meeting

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 investigation;
    • 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 employee.
    • 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 ask questions.
  • 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.