PA Court: Weingarten Rights Belong to Individual, Not to Union

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that Weingarten rights, as applied through the Pennsylvania Public Employees Relations Act (PERA) belong to individual employees rather than to his or her union.  In short, Weingarten rights include the right to bring a union representative to any meeting or hearing that could result in discipline for the employee.

In the case of Com. v. PLRB, an employee was called in for a meeting and asked for a representative.  Although the employee was accompanied by a representative, the employee asked for a different one, who was available at the time.  The employer denied the request, arguing that the employee did not have the right to pick the representative.

The union filed an unfair labor practice charge, which they lost.  On appeal, the Supreme Court reversed, finding that both the PERA and Weingarten give the right to the specific employee, to choose his representative.

While this case now makes clear that the individual employee has the right to choose his representative, it should be made clear that the desired representative was available in this case.  I do not believe that the case would be extended so far as to say that the employee could choose any person he wanted, regardless of the availability of the proposed witness.  While the choice is the employee’s, the choice still must be made from among those fellow employees (and not family members, attorneys, etc.) who are available at the time.

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