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Know your rights
Updated On: Jan 19, 2010
Know Your Rights During an Internal Investigation
Updated On: Jan 13, 2010 (20:27:00) Print or Save this ArticlePRINT/SAVEEmail Article to FriendEMAIL

In 1975 the United States Supreme Court, in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), upheld a 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. The Employer must either: grant the request and delay questioning until the union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; deny the request and end the interview immediately; or give the employee a choice of 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 National Labor Relations Board under the Clinton administration extended the Weingarten Rights to employees at nonunionized workplaces. On June 15, 2004, the NLRB under the George W. Bush administration effectively reversed the previous ruling by a three to two vote.


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