Holiday season is almost here, and as workplace investigators, we know that during office holiday parties, some employees, managers, or directors who may have had one or two too many drinks sometimes engage in different types of misconduct – including vexatious comments or jokes, and unwelcome sexual advances or physical contact – that negatively impact individuals and that can even poison the work environment. This is borne out by the case law.
In a workplace investigation, a corroborating witness is a person whose evidence supports or confirms the evidence of another witness, including a complainant or respondent. Given that people’s memories naturally fade over time, minor inconsistencies between witness accounts are often not significant and, in many cases, to be expected.
An investigation usually involves a complainant and a respondent. The basic premise is that as workplace investigators, we hear what each party has to say, collect other relevant evidence, and then weigh the evidence to decide whether, on a balance of probabilities, the allegations are substantiated.
I recently conducted a workplace investigation that included an allegation that an internal workplace investigation was unfair. Several witnesses who were interviewed as part of the internal investigation had provided evidence that was favourable to the complainant, but neither party to the internal investigation was provided with an opportunity to respond to this witness evidence in a follow-up interview.
As more workplaces fill up and public life fills in again, we have no shortage of investigations involving conflicts between individuals who do not fit into the usual employment relationship category. Our firm also assesses and investigates conflicts within workplaces like membership organizations, municipalities, and service providers who deal with the public.