An internal investigation is an important mechanism an organization can use to address an allegation of wrongdoing, determine legal liability, identify individuals or parties with culpability, comply with regulatory requirements, develop corrective measures and enhance operational efficiencies. Buckner is pleased to continue its blog series highlighting best practices, strategies and techniques that can be used by organizational leaders and counsel during an internal investigation. Today’s post will begin an overview of Weingarten Rights, which came as a result of the United States Supreme Court’s 1975 decision in NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc., 420 U.S. 251 (1975), which upheld a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decision that held employees possess a right to union representation during investigatory interviews:
An employee possesses Weingarten Rights. The right to union representative during an investigatory interview must be claimed by the employee. Further, a supervisor does not have an obligation to inform an employee that he or she is entitled to union representation. An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor: (a) questions an employee to obtain information that could be used as a foundation for discipline; or (b) asks an employee to defend his or her conduct. In other words, whenever an employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or discharge may result from what he or she says in an interview, then the employee possesses the right to request union representation.
Source: “Weingarten Rights”, University of Massachusetts Amherst, available at: https://www.umass.edu/usa/weingarten.htm.