Understanding your representation rights

An investigatory interview guide for WSNA union members

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Table of contents


In the workplace, understanding your rights is crucial to ensuring fair treatment, particularly when it comes to disciplinary actions.

The process of an investigatory interview — a meeting where an employee is questioned about issues that might lead to disciplinary action — can be daunting. However, knowledge about your representation rights during such interviews can help you navigate these situations more effectively.

This page provides an overview of what an investigatory interview is, when and how you should ask for representation, and how to exercise your rights under the Supreme Court's Weingarten decision. Additionally, it addresses some frequently asked questions about representation and your rights as an employee during an investigatory interview.

By knowing and understanding your rights, you can be more confident in facing any potential disciplinary actions at work.

What is an investigatory interview?

An investigatory interview occurs when your manager or director questions you about any issues you're involved in that could possibly lead to disciplinary action. This could include matters like tardiness, overtime, or complaints from patients or peers, among others.

At the start of any such meeting, you should ask, "Could this meeting potentially lead to disciplinary action?" If the answer is "Yes," remember, you have the right to request representation. If the response is "No," stay alert to the meeting's direction. If it seems to shift towards disciplinary action, remember you have the right to invoke your Weingarten rights.

Understanding your Weingarten Rights

Under the Supreme Court's Weingarten ruling, you have specific rights during an investigatory interview:

  1. You need to make an explicit request for union representation. You cannot be penalized for making this request.
  2. Following your request, the employer has three choices:
    • Approve the request, pausing the questioning until your union representative arrives and has a chance to consult with you privately.
    • Deny the request and end the interview immediately.
    • Offer you the choice of continuing with the interview without representation or ending the interview.
  3. If the employer denies your request for union representation and continues the interview, it's an unfair labor practice, and you can refuse to answer any further questions. You cannot be disci­plined for a refusal to answer questions without union representation.

Your statement of rights

As you enter a meeting with management, read the following statement (you may have this written on your RN badge):

"If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, I respectfully request that my union representative be present at this meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to participate in this discussion."

Frequently asked questions

Why do I need representation?

You need to take a repre­sen­ta­tive from WSNA in for meetings that could lead to disci­pline. While the repre­sen­ta­tive may not disrupt or obstruct the inter­view, manage­ment must allow the repre­sen­ta­tive to speak and provide you with assis­tance and counsel. In addition, the repre­sen­ta­tive should take detailed notes of what you say and what your manager says. Usually, these meetings are emotional for the RN involved. After walking out of the director’s or manager’s office, often the RN doesn’t remember all that was said, how it was said, and what was agreed to, etc. Having your WSNA repre­sen­ta­tive present can prevent later disputes about exactly what was said in the meeting. The repre­sen­ta­tive can also help you clarify confusing questions.

Who can represent me?

Start by requesting your Local Unit Grievance Officers. You can reach them through WSNA or the officers directly. If they are unavailable, other Local Unit Officers can attend in their stead. You're entitled to a reasonable amount of time to secure representation.

Can I leave if they keep asking questions?

No. You should remain in the meeting but refrain from answering questions until your representative arrives. Let them know, "I will listen, but I’m going to withhold any comment until my representative is present."

Knowledge is power. Understanding your rights and responsibilities during an investigatory interview can help ensure fair treatment. For further support or information, please reach out to WSNA.