Unless you are member of a labor union, it will be up to your employer whether you will be permitted to bring an attorney or other representative to any meeting, whether it be in response to a complaint you made or in order to discipline you for something. For the most part, employers are unwilling to permit an employee to bring an attorney with them. As an employee, you don’t have much choice; if you refuse to meet with them without an attorney or representative, you can be disciplined for insubordination or failing to cooperate with an investigation.
Labor Union’s and “Weingarten Rights”
The National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Supreme Court have held that members of a labor union are entitled to have a union representative (not necessarily a lawyer) present for an investigatory interviews – which is generally interpreted as (1) any meeting where management questions an employee to obtain information AND (2) the employee has a reasonable belief that discipline or other adverse consequences may result from the meeting. If it is an investigatory interview, the employee can request union representation either before or at any point during the interview and the manager has three choices:
- Grant the request and delay questioning until the union rep arrives;
- Deny the request and end the interview; or
- Give the employee the choice of having the interview without representation or ending the interview.
If the manager denies the request and continues with the meeting, the employee can refuse to answer questions and the manager’s conduct may give rise to a separate unfair labor practice charge.
If you are not a member of a labor union, it’s up to the employer and, as noted above, most employers refuse to permit an attorney to be present for the simple fact that there is nothing in it for them to allow an attorney to attend. They also may fear that the attorney will attempt to disrupt the meeting or investigation. If you are an employee that is being asked to meet with your manager and you have questions about what your rights are, you should consult with an attorney that can answer your questions. If you would like to be connected with an attorney that may be able to assist you, contact us here.