Right To Representation

Your Right To Representation During Disciplinary Proceedings

by Edward R. Purcell, APC Labor Relations Consultant

Most CSU employees are all too familiar with the commonly held stereotypes about public employees: lazy, incompetent, or worse. These, in turn, lead to another favorite idea, namely that the ranks of public employment are populated with the proverbial “dead wood.” The dead wood myth does, unfortunately, have some basis in reality to this degree: public sector supervisors and managers (including those in the CSU) are notoriously slow or remiss in taking appropriate action toward those employees who abuse the privilege of their employment or those who legitimately would benefit from corrective action.

All of this is by way of introduction to a very, very serious warning. When the boss comes for you to discuss disciplinary matters or to impose discipline, take the situation with the utmost concern. Experience teaches that when a public employer such as the CSU finally brings itself to consider disciplinary action against an employee, very seldom does it reconsider and very seldom does it back off, regardless of what the employee says or does at the outset of the process.

By far the biggest mistake made by employees is the assumption that they will be treated fairly in the disciplinary process, and that if they just tell the boss their side of the story everything will be resolved. Many former employees can tell you those are fatal mistakes. In fact, more times than not, just as the line from the old television show says, everything you say can and will be used against you.

As you read the following explanation of your rights, under State and federal law precedent, to union representation during disciplinary proceedings, keep in mind that there are a variety of things that you can do to protect your rights and to increase the likelihood of success in any disciplinary proceeding: