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Employee Rights

You have rights as an employee under the law. Here's how it works.


Overview of Discipline Procedures

Under your negotiated agreement and the law, employees have certain rights and obligations. If you are called into a meeting about everyday work-related events, your rights are probably not affected.

If the meeting with your supervisor requires you to answer questions about some incident or situation, and you reasonably believe you could or will be disciplined as a result, then your rights do come into play.

The employer has the right to conduct an investigation when situations arise. The law requires a fair investigation. As an employee, you have the obligation to obey the employer’s rules and cooperate in an investigation.

If you are called into a meeting and your supervisor asks questions as part of an investigation, you have the right to have another employee attend the meeting with you as a witness. It is your responsibility to tell your supervisor you want to have another person in that meeting as your witness. Generally, the supervisor is not obligated to tell you unless there is specific language to that effect in your contract. The person is there to take notes and to ask clarifying questions.

You should answer all questions truthfully. If there is some indication that you are involved in a criminal matter, it is best not to answer any questions that might incriminate you in any way. You will want to consult with an attorney first before answering questions if it is a criminal matter.

Minimum Procedural Safeguards of Due Process

  • The opportunity to be heard at a meaningful time and in a meaningful manner.
  • Timely and adequate notice detailing the reasons for proposed discipline.
  • The right to representation.
  • An effective opportunity to defend.
  • An opportunity to confront and cross-examine adverse witnesses at a hearing.
  • A decision resting solely on the legal rules and evidence introduced at a hearing.
  • A statement by an impartial decision maker of the reasons for his/her determination and the evidence relied on.

The Weingarten Rule

It is the right of an employee to have a union representative present at a meeting with the employer if the employee has a reasonable expectation that discipline may result.

Key Concepts:

  • The right to representation only comes when the employee requests it. Management does not have to advise you of your rights.
  • An employee may not unilaterally leave the interview to seek representation contrary to the supervisor’s orders.
  • An employer cannot require substituting one designated union representative for another representative.
  • Time should be provided to consult with your representative before the investigative meeting.
  • The right to a representative only applies in situations where an employee reasonably expects disciplinary action could result
  • The employer has no duty to bargain with any union representative at the investigative interview.
  • Contact your local employee rights representative immediately.
  • Listen carefully to accusations, and then ask for time before you do respond.
  • Insist that a local representative be present for any interview or meeting regarding charges or possible charges against you.
  • Make detailed notes of all related events.
  • List names of witnesses.
  • Request and keep copies of all documents and papers related to the incident.
  • Meet deadlines with appropriate responses.
  • Resign.
  • Admit guilt or accept blame in any incident.
  • Make any public statements.
  • Sign any papers or agreements.
  • Agree to pay any expenses for any damage or to make restitution, etc.
  • Reveal your liability coverage.
  • Agree to meet without an employee rights representative.
  • Seek private legal counsel before conferring with your association.

Just Cause: The Seven Tests

  1. NOTICE - Did the employer give the employee forewarning or foreknowledge of the possible or probable consequences of the employee’s disciplinary conduct?
  2. REASONABLE RULES AND ORDER – Was the employer’s rule or management order reasonably related to: (a) the orderly, efficient, and safe operation of the employer’s business and (b) the performance that the employer might properly expect of the employee?
  3. INVESTIGATION – Did the employer, before administering the discipline to an employee, make an effort to discover whether the employee did in fact violate or disobey a rule or order of management?
  4. FAIR INVESTIGATION – Was the employer’s investigation conducted fairly and objectively?
  5. PROOF – At the investigation, did the “judge” obtain substantial evidence or proof that the employee was guilty as charged?
  6. EQUAL TREATMENT – Has the employer applied its rules, orders, and penalties even-handedly to all employees and without discrimination?
  7. PENALTY – Was the degree of discipline administered by the employer in a particular case reasonably related to: (a) the seriousness of the employee’s proven offense and (b) the record of the employee in his/her service with the employer?


If you ever have questions about your rights, contact us immediately. Timeliness is important should something need to be addressed.