This is the second entry drafted by Michael P. DeRose concerning the utilization and implementation of Weingarten rights by New Jersey Public Safety Officers.
Subsequent to the invocation of Weingarten Rights by a New Jersey Public Safety Officer, the supervising authority conducting the interview must:
- cease questioning until the union representative arrives;
- cancel or postpone the interview; or
- inform the subject of the interview that the interview will be called off unless the subject voluntarily waives his or her right to union representation.
In this situation, the union representative serves many vital functions when present at an investigatory interview. First and foremost, the union representative is to meet and speak privately with the officer or first responder subject to the interview prior to its commencement. It is at this meeting coupled with information gathered from administration that the union representative should ascertain the charges against the union member and advise he or she how to answer questions posed by the authority conducting the interview. It is important to remember that under Weingarten the interviewing party must advise the union representative of the purpose and subject of the investigatory interview.
The union representative may also object to questions or tactics he/ she deems inappropriate or coercive that are utilized by the individual conducting the interview. Finally, at the conclusion of the interview, the union representative can offer mitigating circumstances to the employer or the authority conducting the interview, investigate leads, offer information to support the interviewee’s case and question the interviewee to either clear up information that has been provided or provide new information if needed.
Under Weingarten, the functions of the union representative at the investigatory interview does not exceed those set forth above. The union representative cannot dictate verbatim how the officer or first responder should answer questions posed in the interview. The representative can make assertions regarding the investigation; however, the authority conducting the interview has no obligation to take note of these assertions and can in fact ignore them. Furthermore, the authority conducting the investigatory interview has no duty to bargain with the union representative concerning any aspect of the investigation.
In conclusion, the single most important element for any New Jersey Public Safety Officer to retain pursuant to reviewing this blogosphere article is the importance of invoking one’s rights under NLRB v. Weingarten. The invocation of one’s Weingarten rights should be as follows:
- “If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated, or affect my personal working conditions, I request that my union representative be present at this meeting.
- Without representation, I choose not to answer any questions.
- This is my right under a Supreme Court decision called N.L.R.B. v. Weingarten.”
The Law Offices of Arpaia & Crivelli, L.L.C. has had durable plastic cards constructed that contain a Public Safety Officer’s Weingarten Rights. These cards are the exact size of a credit card and should be carried in the wallet or billfold of every New Jersey Public Safety Officer at all times. These cards are free of charge to any Public Safety Officer that would like to ensure that they are protecting their rights. You can obtain a card for yourself or your entire department by calling 609-890-1900. Take advantage of this offer. There are not too many things that are free any longer in today’s world.