Weingarten And Supervisor-Subordinate Conversations

Written on 07/09/2021
Will Aitchison

Deputy Taylor Weiss works for the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department in Wisconsin. On December 13, 2019, Weiss forgot she had agreed to work an extra shift and went home. After her absence was reported to Lieutenant Marc Moonen, he called Weiss at her home to ask why she was not working and whether she could still report to work for the remainder of the shift. Weiss told Moonen she had forgotten she had agreed to work the extra shift but could not report to work as she had consumed some alcohol.

On December 16, 2019, Moonen and Weiss met to discuss the missed shift. Prior to their meeting, Weiss had contacted a representative of the Waukesha Deputy Sheriffs Labor Union and asked the representative to be present for the meeting with Moonen. Weiss believed she might be disciplined for missing the shift.

The Union representative approached Moonen and Weiss as the two of them began to talk. Moonen advised the Union representative that the meeting was not a disciplinary matter and so her presence was not needed. After satisfying herself that Weiss did not want her to stay, the Union representative left. Moonen and Weiss then had further discussion regarding the missed shift.

Subsequently, Moonen discussed the matter with other supervisors and then advised Weiss that her shift exchange privileges were going to be suspended for a period of time. The County reinstated those privileges several days later. The Union filed an unfair labor practice charge alleging that the County had violated the Union’s right to representation under the Weingarten Rule.

An administrative law judge agreed with the Union. The judge found “because the December 16, 2019, conversation between Moonen and Weiss had the objectively reasonable potential to lead to discipline, Waukesha County, by the action of its agent Moonen, committed a prohibited practice within the meaning of the labor law by depriving Weiss of Union representation.”

Waukesha Deputy Sheriffs Labor Union v. Waukesha County, 2021 WL 1837223 (WI. Emp. Rel. Com. ALJ 2021).

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