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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I work for a company who is threatening to discipline/suspend/terminate

Resolved Question:

I work for a company who is threatening to discipline/suspend/terminate me for refusing to disclose whether or not I will be making a donation to a certain charity (I am NOT making a donation). Is it legal for them to do this? During what I believed to be a disciplinary hearing (according to them it wasn't disciplinary in nature) they said I was "disrespectful" (refused to pay attention or cooperate without my union representative present). I did not verbally state that I wished for my union representative to be present, however, I did present them with a written statement (which was never read) - which clearly demonstrated my desire for my union representative to be present - BEFORE I was suspended. Also, according to my union representative's evaluation of my union contract, in order for me to be suspended, there must be 2 managers present (there wasn't, only one manager and one supervisor) and I must be given paperwork to sign to that effect (I wasn't). What are my options here?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. Does your collective bargaining agreement state on what grounds your employer can discipline or terminate you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am not sure. What if there is? What if there isn't?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
I ask because your employer is obligated to follow whatever procedure and requirements for discipline or termination that it agreed upon in your collective bargaining agreement. Typically, collective bargaining agreements address such issues.

That said, your employer may have violated what are called your "Weingarten rights." Specifically, the U.S. Supreme Court held in NLRB v. J. Weingarten (1975) that unionized employees have the right to have a union representative present during any management investigatory interview. An employee CANNOT be punished for making this request.

The court held that an "investigatory interview" occurs when two things take place: (1) management questions an employee to obtain information AND (2) the employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result. For more information on your Weingarten rights, visit this link: http://www.umass.edu/usa/weingarten.htm

Violation of your Weingarten rights would give you grounds to contest your termination, and your union should assist you with this process. Also, if your contract requires that two managers be present at an investigatory interview that results in suspension, your company would be committing an actionable breach of your union contract to let you go on those grounds.

I hope this information helps you in deciding what to do. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice. Good luck and please remember to click "accept" so that I get paid for my time. Thanks so much.

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If my answer has been helpful to you, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button directly above. I will not get credit for assisting you or receive payment for my work unless you do this. Your question will not close after you click "accept," and you will still be able to ask follow-up questions if necessary.
 
The only facts I know about your situation are the ones that you tell me, so please try to be specific and bear in mind that, occasionally, miscommunications will occur. I will do everything I can to clarify my answer if I have misunderstood your question. Also bear in mind that the law does not always read how we think it should. I ask that you be understanding if an opinion I have provided is not consistent with what you wanted to hear.
 
Finally, the information that I have provided is not legal advice. I am not acting as your attorney and my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. I encourage you to consult with a local attorney in regard to legal matters.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
But were my weingarten rights violated even though I didn't verbally ask for a union representative but put it in a written statement that they refused to read? For instance, I've been told by some people that I must VERBALLY ask for a union representative, that a written statement isn't good enough. They weren't aware of my request. They refused to read the statement because they got angry at my refusal to cooperate which they perceived as rudeness. Keep in mind, this all took place very quickly, less than a minute.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Weingarten requests can typically be made in writing. In fact, a written request is preferable in the sense that you have recorded proof of what you've done. Provided that the written request was timely and you made reasonable efforts to get your employer to read it, that would likely be sufficient to trigger your Weingarten rights. Whether you made such reasonable efforts, however, is likely to be considered a "question of fact" ultimately within the provence of a jury to decide.

I hope that this helps clarify. Please, if you can, remember to click "accept" so that I get credit for my answer. Thanks again.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 6695
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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