Employee Rights During Interrogation by the OIG/Postal Inspectors

Joyce B. Robinson

November 7, 2022

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Postal employees are subject to investigation by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) and/or U.S. Postal Inspection Service for on and off-duty offenses. Off-duty non-postal offenses include: serious acts of criminal violence; use of fire arms or dangerous weapons in the commission of a crime; grand larceny, burglary, embezzlement, or robbery, and sale or possession of narcotics or dangerous drugs.

Advice to Follow When Questioned

If questioned by an OIG agent(s) or by postal inspector(s), you should:

  • Remain calm.
  • Correctly identify yourself.
  • Request a union steward/representative, or an attorney, as appropriate.
  • Remain silent until you have consulted the appropriate representative.
  • Request to see a search warrant. If one is not available, inform the investigator(s) that you do not consent to the search. Do not resist arrest or search of your person or property.
  • Ask, “am I a suspect in a criminal matter?” If “Yes,” exercise your rights to remain silent until you consult with an attorney.
  • Do not deny or admit to any allegations without consulting with the appropriate representative.
  • Do Not Sign Any Forms Waiving Your Rights.
  • Do not write or sign any typewritten statements or make oral remarks without the appropriate representative.

Know Your Weingarten Rights

U.S. Supreme Court case (NLRB vs. Weingarten, Inc. 420 U.S. 251, 88 LRRM 2689) established “Weingarten Rights,” which give employees the right to union representation at investigatory interviews, when a supervisor questions the employee to obtain information that could be used as a basis for discipline, or asks an employee to defend his/her conduct. Management is not required to inform the employee of their “Weingarten Rights;” it’s the employee’s responsibility to make the request for representation.

When the Employee Requests a Union Representative, Management Has Three Options:

  1. Grant the request and wait until a union representative arrives,
  2. Discontinue the interview, or
  3. Offer the employee the choice to continue the interview without a representative, or discontinue the interview. Never accept this option, remain silent until you have representation.

Rights of Union Representatives During an Investigatory Interview

The Supreme Court acknowledges a steward or representative’s right to assist and counsel employees during investigatory interviews. Management must inform the representative of the subject of an interrogation. Representatives must be allowed to speak privately with an employee before interviews. During questioning, a representative can interrupt to clarify a question or to object to confusing or intimidating tactics. They can advise the employee when to stop answering questions and to consult with an attorney.

Never allow investigators to intimidate you. Beware of the “good cop, bad cop” routine; getting you to believe that one of them is helping you. Never fall for the trap, always refuse to answer questions unless a representative or an attorney is present. What you say will definitely be used against you! As we begin a new year, may God grant you peace, good health, and happiness in 2023! Be blessed and stay safe!!!

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