Know your rights
Feb 2, 2006 12:26 PM
Union representative should be present at investigatory interview
UFT members should know that they have the right to union representation at an investigatory interview.
An investigatory interview occurs when a supervisor questions an employee to obtain information which could be used as a basis for discipline or asks an employee to defend his or her conduct.
Management is not required to inform employees of their right to union representation; it is the employee’s responsibility to claim it.
The Department of Education uses three avenues of investigation to probe charges of misconduct: the Office of the Special Commissioner of Investigations, theOffice of Special Investigations, and the school principal.
The UFT strongly recommends that members do not speak to any investigator without union representation.
If approached by an investigator, the member should ask for the investigator’s business card and say that a union representative will be in touch to set up an appointment. The member should then immediately inform the UFT borough office that he or she is under investigation and needs union representation.
Upon concluding an investigation, OSCI and OSI both produce a report, which usually contains a disciplinary recommendation for the DOE to follow. The member will usually be called to the superintendent’s office to discuss the report. The member should contact the UFT district representative through the union borough office to arrange for a union representative for that meeting.
For investigations conducted by the school principal, the member should not speak to the principal about any allegation without the chapter leader present.
All allegations of misconduct, regardless of the avenue of investigation, should be taken seriously. Members should not rush into any hearings or interviews without proper union representation.
If a member is removed from a school pending the conclusion of an investigation, the district representative should be contacted immediately. The rep will give the member advice about how to proceed while reassigned.