Section 5: What if Someone Lodges a Complaint Against You?
Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving us wordy evidence of the fact. — George Eliot
If you are called into a meeting with administrators and the meeting becomes an accusatory proceeding where you are asked questions that could lead to your being disciplined, do not go alone and do not answer the questions. Do not tell administrators – or anyone else – what you did or did not do. You have a legal right to refuse to answer such questions without Association representation. There are Association people trained to assist you either in your building or via a phone call to your UniServ Director.
Until you have a chance to discuss the situation with your Association representative or your UniServ Director, do not reply to any questions or charges presented to you. Request an adjournment of the meeting and immediately consult your representative.
It is important that you get advice early instead of waiting to “see what happens.” Your UniServ Director will see to it that you have the benefit of legal advice and counsel, if needed. You should always cooperate with your Association advocates regarding any written statements involving accusations. Do not submit any written statements to administrators unless the documents have been reviewed by your Association representative(s). Be sure to keep copies of any written statements submitted or received. Also, keep all correspondence related to your situation, including postmarked envelopes.
Arrange to be accompanied to your administrator’s office by an Association representative. The Association representative should be your building representative, a local association officer, or your UniServ Director. The individual who accompanies you should agree beforehand to testify for you in administrative hearings or court proceedings, if necessary. Beware of proposals offered by administrators. Do not agree to any proposals without first checking with your Association. If offered an “opportunity to resign,” do not do so without first conferring with your UniServ Director. If the media gets wind of any accusations, they may try to get you to make a statement. Do not make any public statements whatsoever.
The right of an employee to be accompanied by a Union official to a disciplinary hearing was mandated by the Supreme Court’s 1975 decision in NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc.
Union Representation and the Disciplinary Interview
An employee who is called in to an interview with his or her employer, which may lead to some disciplinary action, is entitled to union representation. An employee must request to have a union representative present during the investigatory interviews, which the employee reasonably believes will result in disciplinary action.
If management wants to question or “interview” you,
First: Ask what is involved. Ask if this might lead to your being disciplined.
- Tell management that you want a union representative present. (The employer is not required to postpone the interview because a particular representative is unavailable).
- Refuse to answer any questions until a union representative is present.
- Refuse to allow any tape or any other electronic recording of the interview.
If management insists on proceeding with the interview without regard for your rights, make clear that you are proceeding under protest. Take careful notes. Answer questions briefly, but honestly.
If you make a mistake or start the interview and become disturbed by the direction the interview is taking, stop the interview, request that a union representative be present before continuing with the interview.