Chapter 2 – Steward Rights

Table of Contents

According to the Garrity Rule, before a law enforcement agency can discipline an officer for refusing to answer questions, the agency must:

    • order the officer to answer the questions
    • ask questions which are specifically, directly and narrowly related to officer’s duties or the officer’s fitness for duty, and
    • advise the officer that the answers to the questions will not be used against the officer in criminal proceedings.

If the officer then refuses to answer appropriate questions, the officer may be disciplined for insubordination.

1. After the Union Rep arrives, the supervisor MUST inform the employee and the rep of the subject matter of the interview. The union does not have the right to negotiate over the purpose of the interview.2. The Union Rep can take the employee aside for a PRIVATE conference before the questioning begins.

3. The Union Rep can speak during the interview.

4 The Union Rep can interrupt to object to a question or request that a supervisor clarify a question.

    • The Union Rep can advise the employee not to answer questions that are abusive, misleading, badgering, confusing or harassing.

6. When the questioning ends, the Union Rep can provide information to justify the employee’s conduct.

1. Based on a 1975 U.S. Supreme Court decision

2. Protects the worker’s right to have union representation

3. Applies only to investigatory interviews/meeting that the workers believes could result in discipline.

4. Weingarten does NOT apply to routine meetings with the boss.

5. The worker MUST request a union representative be present.

6. The employee may choose not to have representation.

7. Does not allow the worker to refuse to answer questions once the union representative is present.

8. The worker does have a right to confer with the union representative before the interview.

What Is It?

In 1975 the U.S. Supreme Court decided that you have the right to union representation, at an employer-conducted investigatory interview, if you reasonably believe that it could lead to disciplinary action.

How Effective is this coverage?

Some employers conduct a “fact-finding” interview to determine if any action should be taken. Although no action is taken in that interview, the decision is made based upon the information generated in that meeting as to what should be done.

Because of its “fact-finding” nature, some employers have attempted to keep union representatives out.

Under the Supreme Court’s ruling, the employer MUST ,grant the employee’s request for representation in this type of session.

Credits: Council #4 Labor Education Department

UCONN Labor Education Center, Thanks to Mark Sullivan & Wayne Marshall

Labor Education Institute
(Pre-Disciplinary Hearing)
Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill (1985)
With respect to suspension without pay, involuntary demotion, or involuntary termination when just cause is required: Prior to being disciplined, “The . . . tenured public employee is entitled to oral or written notice of the charges against him (or her), an explanation of the employer’s evidence, and an opportunity to present his (or her) side of the story.”

This right is known as the “Loudermill Right” based upon the 1985 U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Case of Cleveland Board of Education v. Loudermill.

    • Unlike Weingarten, the employer has an obligation to inform the employee of his/her Loudermill Rights.
    • The employee has a right to speak or not to speak at the Loudermill (or pre-disciplinary) hearing. Also, the employee has a right to Union Representation and the Union Steward may speak on behalf of the employee. In fact, it is advised that the Union Steward speak on behalf of the Union member. What the employee says can be used against him/her. What the Union Steward says can’t be used against the employee.
  • Remember to take notes at the meeting and put them in your file.