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NLRB Judge Enforces Right To Union Representation

[September 26, 2013]  A National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge recently ruled that DuPont Co. violated the National Labor Relations Act by failing to provide a union representative when a worker asked for one during an interview that led to his termination.  The case serves as a reminder of union employees’ so-called “Weingarten rights” to have a union representative present during any interview that may result in discipline.

DuPont conducted the interview as part of an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a workplace accident.  When the employee requested representation, the company told him he didn’t need it.

However, DuPont later terminated that employee’s employment because it believed he was dishonest during the interview.

The administrative law judge concluded that DuPont violated the employee’s Weingarten rights when it continued the interview after the employee’s request for representation.  The judge explained that DuPont should have given the employee a choice between continuing the interview unrepresented or having no interview, and ordered the company to cease and desist from violating any employee’s Weingarten rights.

We recommend that unionized employers remind all managers and other employees conducting internal investigations about the rights of union employees, upon request, to have a union representative present during any interview that may result in discipline.

Effective Harassment Policies And Practices Can Be An Employer’s Best Defense

With all of the cautionary tales about what can happen when employers don’t comply with employment laws, it is nice to hear about an employer whose compliance was rewarded. In Wilson v. Moulison North Corp., a recent opinion by the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the Court affirmed summary judgment for an employer that took appropriate precautions to prevent harassment in the workplace. In Wilson, the Court found that the employer had an appropriate policy against harassment, followed its policy, and as such, could not be found liable for the harassment of an employee.  Read more.