Workplace Investigations and Disciplinary Hearings
Public employees have the right to request union representation if their employer is conducting an investigation into potential misconduct and the employee has a reasonable belief they could be disciplined as a result of the situation.
Weingarten rights — named after the 1975 Supreme Court case NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc. that established the rights — protect employees during the process of investigations into areas such as poor performance, theft, arriving late to work, or compliance with company policies.
The employer is not required to offer union representation, and the employee has the right to request representation before or during the meeting. From there, the employer can delay the investigation until the representative is present, or if he or she denies the request, they must end the questioning.
Law enforcement officers in certain circumstances are entitled to Garrity Warnings. Garrity warnings are named after the United States Supreme Court case Garrity v. New Jersey, 385 U.S. 493 (1967).
The Court ruled that the use of a police officers’ statements from an administrative investigation in subsequent criminal proceedings violated their Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination.
The Court held that statements a law enforcement officer is compelled to make under threat of possible forfeiture of his or her job cannot be used against the officer in a criminal prosecution.
A grievance is a formal complaint brought against an employer when an employee believes the terms of their contract have been violated. For a unionized workforce, the complaint is generally in the context of a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.
The collective bargaining agreement often lays out how the grievance process will be handled, and two common options are mediation or arbitration. If the issue is unable to be resolved at the lower levels of the organization, the grievance may make its way up to organizational leadership as the parties involved negotiate a solution.
There are a number of employment issues that may be appealed to a higher court if you are unsatisfied with the initial ruling, including:
- Disciplinary action
- Overtime pay
- Sick leave
- Job classifications
These appeals will likely be brought to the New Jersey Civil Service Commission, the agency that regulates employment of civil service employees in the state.
Law Enforcement Representation
There are many situations in which a law enforcement officer may be accused of wrongdoing and require representation to navigate the legal process. These areas include:
- Excessive force
- Conduct unbecoming allegations
- Arrest without a probable cause
- Improper search
- Violating due process
- Officer-involved shootings
Law enforcement officers may require legal representation during internal affairs investigations, disciplinary proceedings and administrative appeals.
If a law enforcement officer is alleged to have violated someone’s constitutional rights, both the officer and police department may be held liable for both civil and criminal penalties.
Hire a Labor Union or Law Enforcement Attorney
The government often provides public sector employees with more protections than those in the private sector. Rosenberg | Perry & Associates can provide experienced legal advice and counsel to public employees to ensure their fair treatment.
For a free consultation, contact Rosenberg | Perry & Associates through our website or call (609) 216-7400. We’ll learn more about your case and share how we can best represent you.
Learn about workplace investigations in New Jersey, why an employer may be conducting an investigation, your rights throughout the investigation & the rights of union employees facing reports or complaints of misconduct in the workplace.