Weingarten Disciplinary Rights

Weingarten Rights Protect State Managers


Al Laubsch, Business Manager

IBEW Local 30


This article is intended to advise all represented managers regarding their “Weingarten Rights” as they apply to any potential disciplinary meetings and actions initiated against them. You should also know the State of New Jersey must notify IBEW Local 30 of any disciplinary actions within three business days after serving the Preliminary Notice of Disciplinary Action (PNDA) to the manager. See contract Article VI: DISCIPLINARY ACTIONS, F. General Procedures. (the contract can be found at www.ibewlocal30.org/contract).

Recently, IBEW Local 30 has been involved in several very serious disciplinary cases and has provided representation by negotiating settlements or appearing at hearings that have achieved penalty mitigation and reduction on behalf of represented managers. Make sure you are aware of your rights and exercise them appropriately.  

While many managers are familiar with the rights extended to a worker who faces disciplinary action, what is relatively unknown is the United States Supreme Court case that guaranteed these rights for unionized workers. In the case, NLRB v. J Weingarten, Inc. (1975), the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) brought a suit against unionized grocery store operator J. Weingarten, Inc. for violations of Article 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. Under that article, a worker in a unionized shop has the right to union representation in the event the worker’s job may be in jeopardy. In this particular case, a union employee of the company was accused of theft and while the worker repeatedly asked for union representation during the questioning, her requests for a union representative were denied by management. The union, Retail Clerks Union Local 455, brought an unfair labor practice suit against the employer. While the original incident occurred in June of 1972, the US Supreme Court did not hear the case until 1975. In their 6 – 3 decision, the US Supreme Court determined that the worker’s rights were indeed violated, and established the following three rules for investigatory interviews in unionized shops which are known today as “Weingarten Rights.”

Rule 1 – The employee must make a clear request for Union representation before or during the interview. The employee can’t be punished for making this request.

Rule 2 – After the employee makes the request, the supervisor has 3 options. He or she must either:

  1. Grant the request and delay the interview until the Union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
  2. Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
  3. Give the employee a choice of either having the interview without representation or ending the interview.

Rule 3 – If the supervisor denies the request and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer. The employee cannot be disciplined for such refusal but is required to sit there until the supervisor terminates the interview. Leaving before this happens may constitute punishable insubordination. (Source: http://www.umass.edu/usa/weingarten.htm)

The website that provided the three rules as listed above also has other helpful information in regards to other circumstances and aspects of Weingarten.

What does this mean to IBEW Managers?

All managers need to be familiar with Weingarten Rights. Based on recent experience, exercising those rights does indeed make a difference. Utilizing the resources of IBEW, we have developed a team of competent colleagues to help you assert your rights and be there for you throughout the investigatory process, and beyond. Having someone there to support you and participate in the interview process helps ensure discussions are conducted in a fair and professional manner, often resulting in much more favorable outcomes for managers. Results to date include significantly reduced financial penalties associated with initial unpaid suspensions, mitigation of retirement status concerns, and resolution of several other working condition issues. Since Weingarten represents an opportunity for managers to be represented you are strongly encouraged to call and discuss your case with us before you participate in any interviews that could result in disciplinary actions.

It is also recommended that all represented managers become familiar with our current contract by going to our web site at www.ibewlocal30.org/contract to view the entire contract.