Coba Alert

COBA Members Rights for Interviews or Questioning by the Department!

April 11, 2024

To all COBA Members,

The following is an important reminder, to all COBA Members, of your rights under the law about ANY Departmental interview or questioning concerning events which you reasonably believe may lead to you being disciplined. Though not limited to Internal Affairs interviews, all questioning which could lead to discipline we ask that you to be attentive to any questioning which may lead to potential disciplinary action against you. It does not matter whether you are a potential witness or an alleged target of an investigation.

Understand that WHENEVER you are directed to report for ANY interview by either Internal Affairs or the Administration, you should CONTACT COBA to assure your Union is aware of this interview so that you may ask for direction on how to proceed. This includes situations when investigators or department representatives come to your location and begin asking questions. In other words, the location of the questions does not matter. What matters is whether you’re potentially a target of discipline concerning the event.

NEVER assume that the department has notified COBA of this interview.  That is critical. If you are ever told by a representative of the Department that you "do not need a Union rep", you should notify the COBA of that immediately. That statement is itself illegal.

The Department, by law, cannot deny you the opportunity to speak with a COBA rep and cannot attempt to persuade you from speaking with your Union. That, too, is illegal.

Below is a reminder of what is known as your "Weingarten Rights". These rights were established by the Supreme Court in 1975, and later embodied in the Taylor law, and MUST BE INVOKED BY YOU, the employee.  The employer, by law, cannot prevent you from talking to your Union, but they also have no obligation to inform you of your right to Union representation.

Weingarten Rules are as follows:

When an investigatory interview occurs, the following rules apply:

Rule 1: The employee must make a clear request for Union representation BEFORE or DURING the interview. The employee CANNOT be punished/disciplined for making this request. That, itself, is illegal.

Rule 2: After the employee makes the request, the supervisor has 3 options.

He/she must either:

• Grant the request and delay the interview until the Union representative arrives and has a chance to consult privately with the employee or;

• Deny the request and end the interview immediately or;

• Give the employee a choice of:

a.) having the interview without representation or;

b.) ending the interview

Rule 3: If the supervisor denies the request and continues to ask questions, this is an unfair labor practice and the employee has a right to refuse to answer any questions. The employee cannot be disciplined for such refusal but may be required to stay in place until the supervisor terminates the interview. Leaving before being dismissed may constitute insubordination. We will fight for you if you’re compelled to answer questions which you believe may lead to your discipline.  

If you are ever unsure of what your rights are, be sure to consult with a COBA Representative BEFORE proceeding.


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