Weingarten Rights

The Supreme Court's 1975 decision in the case of NLRB v. J. Weingarten, Inc. gave employees the right to union representation during any investigatory interview that they reasonably believe might lead to disciplinary action. This includes any time you are being asked questions by your immediate supervisor, a general supervisor, or even the safety officer. It also includes any interview conducted by the Postal Inspection Service.
These rights are called WEINGARTEN rights. They arise under Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act, and are independent of any rights that you have as a mail handler under the National Agreement. They also are different than the rights that you have under the Supreme Court's earlier decision in Miranda.

The difference between WEINGARTEN rights and Miranda rights is twofold. First, Miranda rights apply when there is a criminal charge. They protect your right not to incriminate yourself. WEINGARTEN rights exist not so much to prevent self-incrimination, but to allow the union to represent an employee in any decision or procedure that might impact on his or her terms of employment. Second, a law officer is obligated to inform you of your Miranda rights. No one has to inform you of your WEINGARTEN rights.


  You must request that the supervisor, investigator or other management representative provide you with union representation. (It is best if you can assert your WEINGARTEN rights in front of witnesses - i.e., on the workfloor prior to being taken to the site of the interview.) However, you can assert your right to a union representative at any time - even once the interview has begun.

If you do not STATE THAT YOU WANT A UNION REPRESENTATIVE, the interview can proceed without a representative present. Remember, the union cannot exercise Weingarten rights on your behalf, and management is not required to inform you about your Weingarten rights. On the other hand, once you ask for representation, the person interviewing you (the supervisor, inspector, or whoever) has three options:

1. Grant the request;
2. Discontinue the interview; or
3. Offer the employee the choice between continuing the interview unaccompanied or having no interview at all.

Unless you voluntarily agree to continue without representation, the interview cannot legally go on.

If your request for a steward is granted, the interview can continue. This does not mean that you have to sign a Waiver of Rights, including your right to remain silent if you are being charged with a crime. WEINGARTEN means that you have the right to pre-interview consultation and the right to make requests of the union representative for clarification or information during the interview. Postal inspectors are not obligated to bargain with or discuss the issues with your representative. However, if your WEINGARTEN rights are asserted and not met, no information from the interview can be used as the basis of disciplinary action. The Postal Inspection Service is well aware of your rights. Once you have asked for a steward, they generally comply.

Remember, if you are being charged with a crime which also may relate to possible adverse action from your employer, you have the right to be informed about your Miranda rights and you have the right to request union representation by asserting your rights under WEINGARTEN. Just because your Miranda rights are read to you does not release the interviewer from the obligation to get you a steward if you request one.

These are your LEGAL RIGHTS. Availing yourself of them does not imply guilt! These rights exist to protect the innocent. Use them. Do not be intimidated. Do not think that you have nothing to fear if you are not guilty. Words can be twisted. If someone tells you to go for an interview (about any job-related matter) or to report to the Inspection Service (for any reason), the first words out of your mouth should be, "I want my shop steward present."

If you are questioned by a U.S. Postal Inspector about your conduct, even if you believe you are not guilty of any wrongdoing, it is suggested that you do the following:

1. Remain calm.
2. Correctly identify yourself if requested to do so.
3. Do not physically resist an arrest or search of your person or property.
4. Read aloud to the Postal Inspector(s) the statement below.
5. You have the right to remain silent until you have consulted with your Union representative or attorney, as appropriate.


I request the presence of my Union representative. If I am a suspect in a criminal matter, please so advise me. If so, I wish to contact my attorney. His/Her name is _____________, and his/her telephone number is ____________.

If I am under arrest, I request you to so advise me and to inform me of the reason or reasons. I will not resist an arrest.

I do not consent to a search of my person or property. However, I will not physically resist or obstruct such a search. If you have a search warrant, I request to see it at this time.

I will cooperate with you fully, but I do not waive any of my rights, including my right to remain silent. I will not sign a waiver-of-rights form, nor admit or deny any allegation, nor make any oral or written statement unless my attorney and/or my Union representative are personally present and so advise me.