In 1975 the United States Supreme Court, in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), upheld a
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that employees have a right to union representation at
investigatory interviews. These rights have become known as the Weingarten Rights.
During an investigatory interview, the Supreme Court ruled that the following rules apply:
Rule 1: The employee must make a clear request for union representation 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.
In July 2000, the NLRB under the Clinton administration extended the Weingarten Rights to employees at non-unionized workplaces.
On June 15, 2004, the NLRB under the George W. Bush administration effectively reversed the previous ruling by a three to two vote.
Weingarten Card (printable card)
The following is an example of a card which an employee can either read or present to management prior to a meeting with management where the employee believes that discipline or termination may result:
"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal
working conditions, I respectfully request that my union representative, officer, or steward be present at this
meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion."