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What Are My Rights When Under Investigation By My Employer?

 Posted on November 18, 2020 in Civil Service Employment and Job Defense

New York civil service employee defense lawyerAs a civil service or public sector employee, your job security may be under serious threat if you are the subject of an employer investigation related to possible disciplinary action. If you are not careful, the way that you respond to an investigation can negatively affect your ability to contest disciplinary charges that your employer issues, and it may even put you at risk of a criminal conviction. It is important to know that you have rights when you are under investigation, and a civil service defense attorney can help you protect them.

Garrity and Weingarten Rights

The rights of public sector employees when under investigation have been secured in large part by two cases argued before the United States Supreme Court. One case, Garrity v. New Jersey, confirmed that public employees are protected from forced self-incrimination. This means that if an employee is under investigation for a potential work violation that could also be considered a criminal offense, the employer cannot threaten the employee with disciplinary action or termination to compel the employee to respond in a way that could be used against him or her in criminal proceedings. As an employee, it is important for you to assert your Garrity rights verbally when under questioning to ensure that your responses can only be used in disciplinary proceedings regarding your employment.

Another case, NLRB v. Weingarten, Inc., confirmed that civil service employees have the right to representation during an investigative interview, when asked for a written statement as part of a disciplinary investigation, or in any situation in which the employee believes that responding to the employer’s questions could have disciplinary implications. This means that you can request the presence of a union representative before answering any questions, and you can also consult privately with that representative before continuing the conversation with your employer.

What If My Rights Are Violated?

It is important to emphasize that your employer has no obligation to notify you of either your Garrity or Weingarten rights, and that you need to actively assert them to benefit from their full protection. However, if you have asserted your rights and you believe that your employer is refusing to honor them, an attorney can help you protect your rights during both the disciplinary process and a possible criminal trial. A lawyer with a strong understanding of civil service employee rights may be crucial to help you avoid discipline, retaliatory actions, or a criminal conviction.

Contact a New York Civil Service Employee Defense Attorney

At The Law Firm of Gregory J. Watford, Esq. PLLC, we are committed to protecting the rights of New York’s civil service and public sector employees. We can provide guidance and representation when you are concerned about a possible disciplinary investigation, as well as when an investigation is underway and you believe your rights have been infringed upon. Contact a Manhattan civil service employee defense lawyer today at 646-580-6675.



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