May 2016 Newsletter – School Districts
PERB Clarifies Who Can Serve As Employee Representative During Discipline Meetings
The EERA guarantees K-12 and community college employees the right to be represented by “organizations of their own choosing… on all matters of employer-employee relations.” The EERA further guarantees the employee’s exclusive representative the right to represent its members. These rights extend to investigative or disciplinary interviews or other meetings called by management under unusual circumstances. These rights are sometimes referred to as “Weingarten Rights.”
In Hartnell Community College District (2015) PERB Decision No. 2452, the employee filed an unfair practice charge alleging that he was retaliated against after he requested a representative for a disciplinary meeting, conduct that would be considered to be protected activity by the EERA. However, PERB dismissed the unfair practice charge because the employee’s chosen representative was not an officer, representative, or authorized agent of the employee’s union or any other employee organization. In fact, the employee’s chosen representative was not was not authorized to act on behalf of the Association. PERB held that the right to representation is limited to representation by the organization to which the employee actually belongs. Therefore, the request for an outside representative for a disciplinary meeting is not protected activity.
Hartnell serves to clarify that in meetings where an employee has Weingarten Rights, the employee may only be represented by an officer, representative, or authorized agent of that employee’s union. Weingarten Rights do not allow the employee to be represented by any person he or she wants when that person is not part of the employee’s union.
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