The Texas Supreme Court has said no to extending the right to a union representative for state workers in meetings with managers. Under current federal laws, employee's right to "concerted activities" under the National Labor Relations Act allows federal and private-sector workers to have a union representative accompany them to meeting with management that could result in disciplinary actions.
The right to have union representation at a disciplinary hearing is known as Weingarten rights, after the landmark Supreme Court case NLRB v. Weingarten which originally granted the rights as a part of the general right to organize.
However, in this case, the Texas Supreme Court found that because the Texas legislature had failed to enact a complimentary law in the intervening decades, there was no specific right to union representation for state employees.
To the average Texas reader, this probably seems like minor legal details that wouldn't have a big impact. A lot of people go into disciplinary hearings hoping for the best and intending to try to work things out with their employer, but unfortunately that is not always the way things work out, and that is when employees need a dedicated advocate to step in an help make sure their rights are protected. Human resources professionals and company attorneys know a lot more about the law than a typical employee, and it is important to make sure that employers don't try to use that knowledge gap to their advantage by denying employees the proper process or infringing on their rights.
Source: Thomson Reuters News & Insight, "State workers have no Weingarten rights, Texas court says," Carlyn Kolker, April 10, 2013.
Information about worker's rights during employment disputes can be found on our website.