If You Are Being Disciplined

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Your Right To PSC Representation in Disciplinary Proceedings and Investigations

SUMMARY

You have the right to union representation whenever you are the subject of disciplinary proceedings or whenever you might become the subject of disciplinary proceedings.

  • New York State Law grants a public employee the right representation by the union whenever it reasonably appears that the employee may be the subject of a potential disciplinary action. This includes formal disciplinary proceedings, but it also includes any other meeting, such as a “fact-finding” or “investigatory” meeting, where the result of such a meeting could be the issuance of discipline. When any supervisor asks you questions to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline; or asks an employee to defend or explain her or his conduct.
  • You must request union representation. Management is under no legal requirement to inform you of your rights—you must assert them yourself.
  • If representation is requested, a reasonable period of time shall be afforded to the employee to obtain such representation.
  • If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it may be found to have committed a violation of your rights under the Taylor Law and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.

If you need representation contact your chapter grievance counselor or call the PSC central office at (212) 354-1252 and ask to speak to the Legal Affairs Department.

SOME EXAMPLES OF WHEN YOU NEED TO EXERCISE YOUR RIGHT TO PSC REPRESENTATION

Did you ever get a call from an administrator asking you to come to their office and when you arrive, you are told that they “need some information.” A student, a colleague or a supervisor has “raised some concerns.” Formal charges or accusations may or may not have been made. But, the administrator “just wants to ask some questions.” You know, “just informally.”

Or you may be asked to a meeting with the college's Affirimative Action Officer who has told you they are investigating a student complaint of discrimination or sexual harassment. You begin to get nervous—where could this lead? Might it lead to possible disciplinary action? What should I do?

The answer is simple—Stop the interview and ask to know exactly what the investigation is about and what it may result in. If the questioner is investigating allegations made against you by either a student, another faculty member or administrator, you may request for the meeting be postponed in order that a representative from the PSC be present.

The Taylor Law grants a public employee the right, upon the employee's demand, to representation by a union representative when at the time of questioning by the employer it reasonably appears that he or she may be the subject of a potential disciplinary action. If representation is requested, a reasonable period of time shall be afforded to the employee to obtain such representation. You are entitled to have union representation when any supervisor asks you questions to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline; or asks an employee to defend her or his conduct. Management is under no legal requirement to inform you of your rights—you must assert them yourself.

Administrators often claim that the only role of a union representative in an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion. However, the Taylor Law says that an employee is entitled to “representation”. This means that once the employee asserts their right to have a union representative present, the employer must choose from among the following three options:

  • Grant the request and delay the questioning until the union representative arrives and has been given a chance to consult privately with the employee;
  • Deny the request and end the interview immediately; or
  • Give the employee a choice of (1) having the interview without representative or (2) end the interview.

If the employer denies the request for union representation, and continues to ask questions, it may be found to have committed a violation of your rights under the Taylor Law and the employee has the right to refuse to answer. The employer may not discipline the employee for such a refusal.

If you need representation contact your chapter grievance counselor or call the PSC central office at (212) 354-1252 and ask to speak to a grievance counselor for assistance.