Weingarten Rights: The Right to Representation
If you are ever called into an interview meeting with your supervisor or manager so they can investigate a situation which might result in discipline, you have specific representational rights. These rights are summarized below:
- You have the right to have a Union delegate present.
- If you want a delegate there, you must ask for him or her.
- If you do not know why your manager wants to meet with you, ask him/her if it is a meeting that could result in a discipline.
- If your manager refuses to allow you to bring a 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 delegate at once.
- You have the right to speak privately with your delegate before the meeting and during the meeting.
- Your delegate has the right to play an active role in the meeting. He or she is not just witness.
These rights are called “Weingarten Rights” based on a 1975 Supreme Court decision (NLRB vs. J. Weingarten). As with all rights, if we do not use them we lose them.
This statement could save your job:
“If this discussion could in any way lead to my being disciplined or terminated I respectfully request that my delegate be present at the meeting. Without representation present, I choose not to respond to any questions or statements.”
Know Your Loudermill Rights
Most public employees have a constitutional right to a pre-termination hearing.
In a decision announcing a Constitutional right for public employees not possessed by private employees, the Supreme Court in Cleveland ruled Board of Education v. Loudermill, 470 US 532 Ed 2d 494 (1985) that most public employees are entitled to a hearing before they are discharged.
However, the hearing is not a full evidentiary hearing and need not include the opportunity to cross examine your accuser(s). All that is required is:
- Oral or written notice of the charges and time for hearing
- An explanation of the employer’s evidence
- An opportunity to present “his or her side of the story
Since the issuance of the Loudermill decision, the lower courts have strictly limited the remedy for Loudermill violations.
Specifically, an employee deprived of his or her Loudermill rights is not entitled to reinstatement if the employer can prove that there was just cause for the discharge in any case.
If you are sent a certified letter or requested by management that you need to fill out a Loudermill report, please notify your field organizer in the Union, committee person and/or steward immediately.
In addition, if management gives you an order to write a Tour of Duty about an employee, co-worker, or a given situation, contact your field organizer at the Union, committee person, and/or steward immediately!
The Illinois Worker Compensation Law
Workers compensation is your guaranteed right under the law. However, if you’re not aware of your rights, there’s a good chance that you or one of your co-workers might not receive all the benefits that you’re entitled to. The following information is some of the basic facts of the Illinois Workers Compensation Law:
- Illinois law specifically protects the rights of employees to file a workers’ compensation claim, without fear of discrimination. These protections are backed up by Illinois courts.
- You must report any work-related injury or illness within 45 days – the sooner the better.
- If you suffer a work related injury or illness, you are entitled – at your employer’s expense – to receive all medical and hospital services.
- You have the right to select any physician you choose or to go to any doctor or hospital that you are referred to by that doctor. All medical bills related to treatment of an on-the-job injury will be paid by the employer or their insurance company.
- You are eligible to receive payments under worker’s compensation after you have been off work for more than three (3) days. However, if you are out for more than fourteen (14) calendar days, you will be paid from the very first day out of work.
- Pay under the Illinois Workers Compensation Act is at a rate of two-thirds (2/3) of your pay when you get hurt on the job.
- Your employer can require that you go to a doctor chosen by the employer. You still have the right to go to your own doctor. If your doctor does not agree with the medical decision of the employer’s doctor, call the Union to be referred to a lawyer who specializes in worker compensation law. Be sure to write on your own doctor’s statement that the employer is challenging your worker’s compensation claim. This will help protect your rights during any legal actions you may take to get the money you deserve. Always keep a copy of any document you give to your employer.
Important Note: Many diseases and injuries, such as back pain, repetitive motion disease (i.e. carpal tunnel) and loss of hearing can be work related even though they usually are not caused by one incident. Handle these cases as you would any accident. For further information or lawyer referrals, call the Union office at 312-787-5868.