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Know Your Rights

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As Employees in the United States of America, YOU HAVE RIGHTS!

Weingarten Rights: The Right to Representation

If you are ever called into an interview meeting with your supervisor or manager that might result in discipline, you have specific representational rights. These rights are summarized below.

  • You have the right to have a Union steward or delegate present.
  • If you want a steward or delegate there, you must ask for them.
  • If you do not know why your manager wants to meet with you, ask them if it is a meeting that could result in a discipline.
  • If your manager refuses to allow you to bring a steward or delegate, repeat your request in front of a witness. Do not refuse to attend the meeting, but do not answer any questions either. Take notes. Once the meeting is over, call your steward or delegate at once.
  • You have the right to speak privately with your steward or delegate before the meeting and during the meeting.
  • Your steward or delegate has the right to play an active role in the meeting. She or he is not just a witness.
  • This statement could save your job: “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 or delegate be present at this meeting. Until my representative arrives, I choose not to participate in this discussion.”

Federal and state law guarantees your right to form a union. Employees who are eligible to form unions have the following rights at work:

  • You have the right to form a union with your fellow employees.
  • You have the right to read, distribute and discuss union literature.
  • You have the right to encourage your co-workers to form a union.
  • You have the right to attend union meetings.
  • You also have rights covered under your constitutional right to freedom of speech and freedom of association.

Management can not legally punish or discriminate against any worker because of union activity. For example, management can not legally do the following:

  • Threaten to or actually fire, lay off, discipline, harass, transfer, or reassign employees because they support the union.
  • Favor employees who don’t support the union over those who do in promotions, job assignments, wages, hours, enforcement of rules, or any other working condition.
  • Shut down the work site or take away any benefits or privileges employees already enjoy in order to discourage union activity.

Garrity Rights (PUBLIC ONLY)

In the case of Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 US 495 (1967), the U.S. Supreme Court determined that public employees could not be forced, under clear threat of dismissal, to violate the principles of compulsory self-incrimination. This decision established what have come to be called “Garrity Rights” for public employees.The Garrity rule is similar to Miranda rights for public employees. However, the burden is on the employee to assert their Garrity rights. These rights can and should be asserted whenever an employee believes they are being investigated for possible criminal conduct. Once an employee has asserted their Garrity rights, management must:Give a direct order to answer the questionMake the question specific, directly and narrowly related to the employee’s duty or fitness for dutyAdvise the employee that the answers will not and cannot be used against him/her in a criminal proceeding, nor the fruits of those proceedingsAllow union representation if the employee also asserts their Weingarten Rights. Disclaimer: The content on this website is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice.

Loudermill Rights (Public Sector)

In 1985, the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill established what has come to be called “Loudermill Rights” which grant due process to public employees who are being involuntarily terminated.

Prior to being terminated, the Union member has the right to present their side of the story before the employer makes a decision on discipline. Public employees are entitled to oral or written notice of the charges against them, an explanation of the employer’s evidence, and an opportunity to present their side of the story. Sometimes these meetings are referred to as pre-disciplinary hearings.

The employee has the right to speak or stay silent at the Loudermill hearing. Also, the employee has a right to union representation, and the union representative may speak on behalf of the employee.

If the employee chooses not to attend the pre-disciplinary hearing, the employer may proceed with discipline or termination.

Know Your Rights FAQ

Know your Rights FAQ

Everyone wants a smooth working relationship on the job, but problems can arise in any workplace. As an SEIU District 1199 WV/KY/OH member, you have union protection and rights guaranteed by your contract and also several Supreme Court decisions.

What’s the best way to protect myself?

Read and understand your contract and know who your Delegates are. The contract governs terms and conditions of your employment.

What if I think my contractual rights are being violated?

Remember, obey a supervisory order and then grieve it afterwards. You have the right to file a grievance when management violates a contractual right. 

Talk to your Delegate immediately.

There are strict timelines that apply, so work closely with your Delegate. If management refuses to settle the grievance, the Union may argue your case before an impartial arbitrator who makes the final ruling.


I think I’m in trouble at work – what are my rights?

A 1975 Supreme Court ruling, NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., gives you the RIGHT to have Union representation when you are being investigated at work. If you believe that a conversation with a supervisor could lead to discipline or termination, INSIST on having your Union representative present. These are called Weingarten Rights and it is up to you to demand them.

Follow these steps:

  • Demand Union representation.  You must ask for Union representation before or during any conversation that could lead to discipline. Management does not have to inform you of this right and they cannot punish you for demanding Union representation.
  • After management is told of your desire for representation, they have three options:
    • grant the request and delay questioning until your Union Delegate arrives and (prior to any conversation that could lead to discipline continuing) the Delegate has a chance to consult privately with you; or
    • deny the request and end any conversation that could lead to discipline immediately; or
    • give you the choice between having any conversation that could lead to discipline without a Delegate present, or ending the conversation.
  • Do NOT waive your right to representation!  If you proceed in questioning without representation, you have waived your right to representation, even if you have a good relationship with your supervisor or are innocent, do not waive the right to Union representation. If Management forces you to proceed with any conversation that could lead to discipline after denying your request for representation, you must do your best to answer their questions if they threaten you with discipline for refusing to answer. Do your best to avoid insubordination, and contact your Delegate immediately after the conversation.

Remember, Weingarten Rights do not apply to everyday conversations between members of the Union and supervisors regarding regular job duties or work performance. They only apply to questioning from management that could lead to discipline or termination.

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