fbpx

Know Your Rights

Most education employees go through their entire careers without facing disciplinary action. Nevertheless it is still important to know and be familiar with your rights should you or your co-workers need to exercise them.

In addition to the resources listed below, you may have additional rights spelled out in your Collective Bargaining Agreement:

Additional reminders and guidance for educators:

Your Right to Representation

Being called into a meeting with your supervisor or an administrator can seem daunting. It’s important to stay calm and remember your right to representation, also known as your “Weingarten Rights”:

  • Remember: If a reasonable person would believe that discipline could result from the meeting, you have the right to representation.
  • Ask: “What is the purpose of the meeting?” Could discipline result from the meeting? If so…
  • State: “I want union representation.” You can ask for representation at any time during the meeting.

DO NOT be insubordinate if denied representation.

  • Attend the meeting.
  • Keep asking for union representation.
  • Take good notes.

DO NOT sign or agree to anything.
DO NOT make or write statements.
CALL your local union office or service unit immediately for assistance.


Other frequently asked questions about your right to representation:

Q: Does this right apply to all meetings with administrators?
A: No, only those that conceivably will lead to discipline. This includes anything from reprimands to non-renewal or dismissal.

Q: What if my principal calls in other administrators?
A: You may have your union representative there also. Request it!

Q: What if I am meeting on a curriculum matter and then the subject changes to one that might lead to discipline?
A: Stop the “interview”. Request union representation, even if it means continuing this portion of the meeting to another time.

Q: Can I bring my spouse, a lawyer, or a friend?
A: No, the law entitles you to a union representative. You’re not entitled to other representation or witnesses.

Q: Do I have the right to call in a particular union member?
A: Generally, the union steward or representative will be called. The idea is to provide you with skilled union representation, in addition to the moral support of a union colleague.

Q: What is the role of the union representative during such a meeting?
A: The union representative is there to assist the member, and to protect the Collective Bargaining Agreement rights. The union representative has the right to speak on his or her behalf and to meet with the member privately before the interview with management.

Q: Can we give up our right to union representation?
A: There are two ways to give up your right to union representation either by contract language or by inaction. Your collective bargaining agreement does not waive your rights to union representation. However, once on the spot, you might be bullied into waiving your right or not asserting it. In such a case, you have little recourse later.

Do’s and don’ts when facing disciplinary action

  • DO remain calm.
  • DO contact your local union or service unit office.
  • DO keep notes.
  • DON’T make statements if you can avoid it without being insubordinate.
  • DON’T attend meetings without representation.
  • DO get preliminary details.
  • DON’T agree to a change in job status.
  • DO retain letters, documents, notes, etc. on the matter.

Here is some additional practical advice, which you should use to protect your rights until help arrives. If confronted with charges:

  • Remain calm and courteous.
  • Ask for your union representative to be present. If your rep is not available, ask to reschedule the meeting.
  • Listen carefully to accusations. Then ask for time to think or to secure information.
  • Make written notes of the events which occur in any confrontation or accusatory session, or of any other action which appears to be related. Take down every detail, including the names of witnesses and others involved while the details are fresh in your mind.
  • In the event of a confrontation or threat to your job, do NOT resign or sign any papers or agreement.
  • Immediately contact your union representative and your local union office if trouble strikes.

Q&As for Florida Educators

Common questions about school closures, testing, students with IEPs, evaluations, certifications and more. Updated 3/31.

Digital Learning Resources for Educators and Parents

Resources for engaging students during the school closure

FEA Statewide Town Hall on COVID-19 

Video and transcript of March 25 town hall on the impact of coronavirus on Florida’s public education system.

Q&As and Resources for Parents

Common questions and resources for parents — including links for meals for students in need.

Advocacy Updates for
COVID-19

Ways for members to take action to protect students, educators, healthcare professionals and working people.

Member Benefit Resources and Links

Overview of the additional resources our benefit partners are providing to help members deal with the COVID pandemic. Updated 4/20 with Student Loan Forgiveness information.

AFL-CIO Survival Guide for Unemployment

A PDF guide for working people facing unemployment.

FAQs about the Legislature’s Salary Plan

FEA received a number of questions before and during FEA's recent Facebook Live event covering…

Read more about this story

Will I receive a raise next school year?

Don’t like what you see in the flowchart?Get in touch with your local legislators today…

Read more about this story

Sign up for Frontline Email & Access the Frontline Archives

At the end of each week, we send a recap of the goings on in…

Read more about this story

Don’t let this moment go to waste.

Crazy times provide teachable moments.Don’t let this one go to waste.by Fedrick Ingram, President of the Florida Education AssociationWhat should you say to the people in your life during a…

Read more about this story

FEA Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

The Florida Education Association recognizes the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officers as an unspeakable tragedy. Sadly, police brutality against the Black community has been an ever-present occurrence;…

Read more about this story

Our voices were heard: Campuses remain closed, safety comes first

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis ordered public school campuses closed in mid-March due to the coronavirus crisis, and later directed that education should continue through distance learning. By mid-April, no decision…

Read more about this story

FEA calls for education experts and stakeholders, medical professionals to guide reopening

TALLAHASSEE — ­ Florida Education Association (FEA) President Fedrick Ingram emailed the following letter to…

Read more about this story

FEA calls on governor to keep schools closed, continue distance learning

This letter from FEA President Fedrick Ingram was sent to the office of Florida Gov. Ron…

Read more about this story

The College of the Florida Keys Faculty Vote to Unionize

KEY WEST, Fla.  — Faculty at The College of the Florida Keys (CFK) have spoken…

Read more about this story