Representation rights #

Washington State Nurses Associ­a­tion union nurses have rights. Repre­sen­ta­tion rights!

Investigatory interviews #

An inves­ti­ga­tory inter­view is when you are questioned by your manager or director about any issue that you are involved with that could possibly lead to disci­pli­nary action.

This can include tardi­ness, overtime, patient complaints, peer complaints, etc. You should ask at the begin­ning of the meeting,​“Is this a meeting that can lead to disci­pli­nary action?” If they answer​“Yes” then you have the right to ask for repre­sen­ta­tion. If they say​“No” and indicate that you don’t need anyone, listen carefully to what is being discussed. If it starts to feel like it could lead to disci­pline, you have the right to invoke your Weingarten rights. 

Representation rights #

Under the Supreme Court’s Weingarten decision, when an inves­ti­ga­tory inter­view occurs, the following rules apply: 

  1. The employee must make a clear request for union repre­sen­ta­tion before or during the inter­view. The employee cannot be punished for making this request. (Note: Do not ask the employer,​“do I need union repre­sen­ta­tion?” It is up to you to make the state­ment that you want union repre­sen­ta­tion.) Remember, manage­ment is not an appro­priate repre­sen­ta­tive, so if they offer you the nursing super­visor or someone else to sit with you, that is not adequate.
  2. After the employee makes the request, the employer must choose among three options. The employer must either: 
    1. Grant the request and delay questioning until the union repre­sen­ta­tive arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee; or
    2. Deny the request and end the inter­view immedi­ately; or
    3. Give the employee a choice of: 1) having the inter­view without repre­sen­ta­tion, or 2) ending the interview.
  3. If the employer denies the request for union repre­sen­ta­tion and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The employee cannot be disci­plined for a refusal to answer questions without union representation.

If called into a meeting with manage­ment, read the following (or present the Weingarten palm card) to the manage­ment when the meeting begins: 

If this discus­sion could in any way lead to my being disci­plined or termi­nated, I respect­fully request that my union repre­sen­ta­tive be present at this meeting. Without repre­sen­ta­tion present, I choose not to partic­i­pate in this discussion.

Frequently asked questions #

Why do I need representation? #

You need to take a repre­sen­ta­tive from WSNA in for meetings that could lead to disci­pline. While the repre­sen­ta­tive may not disrupt or obstruct the inter­view, manage­ment must allow the repre­sen­ta­tive to speak and provide you with assis­tance and counsel. In addition, the repre­sen­ta­tive should take detailed notes of what you say and what your manager says. Usually these meetings are emotional for the RN involved. After walking out of the director or manager’s office, often the RN doesn’t remember all that was said, how it was said, and what was agreed to, etc. Having your WSNA repre­sen­ta­tive present can prevent later disputes about exactly what was actually said in the meeting. The repre­sen­ta­tive can also help you clarify confusing questions. 

Who can repre­sent me? #

You should first ask for your Local Unit Griev­ance Officers. To contact them, call WSNA or the officers directly. If the Griev­ance Officers are not avail­able, one of the other Local Unit Officers can attend. You have the right to have a reason­able amount of time to get representation. 

If they keep asking questions, can I leave? #

No, stay at the meeting, but do not answer questions until your repre­sen­ta­tive has a chance to arrive. Let them know,​“I will listen but I’m going to withhold any comment until I can get a representative.”