Serious insight for serious situations.

Serious insight for serious situations.

Where to meet? Tips on choosing interview spaces

I recently did several investigations which involved a bit of creativity when choosing the interview location.  The situations made me think of how an interview space can affect a participant’s experience and perhaps the quality of evidence that is elicited during that meeting.  Below, I offer some thoughts to consider when choosing an interview space.

The interview is an opportunity for the investigator to neutrally gather evidence.  It is also an opportunity for the interviewee to talk about their understanding and observations of the situation at hand.  The interview is often one of the key, if not the main, sources of information that an investigator will have.

Read More

Starting an investigation when no one asked (or wanted) you to

You hear things.  A whisper here and there.  An overheard comment about a colleague crossing the line with another colleague.  Repeatedly.  Or maybe it’s more than a whisper.  Maybe it’s more of a resounding chorus.  And the voices are all offering alarmingly similar and compelling descriptions of a colleague engaging in a pattern of behaviour that – according to multiple reports – is decidedly unwelcome.  The information may even be set out in writing in a formal letter of complaint.  But the author of the letter has chosen to remain anonymous.

Read More

Dois-je tout dévoiler à la partie intimée? | Do I have to tell the respondent everything?

C’est une question que l’on nous pose souvent pendant notre formation sur les techniques de base en matière d’enquêtes au travail. Devons-nous vraiment tout dévoiler avant l’entrevue avec la partie intimée? Certains participants pensent que la partie intimée fournira des informations plus spontanées et candides s’il y a un élément de surprise pendant l’entrevue. Si la partie intimée reçoit une information détaillée, elle aura ainsi plus de temps pour inventer une histoire qui se conforme aux allégations et aux éléments de preuve. Cette tactique, toutefois, se fond sur une supposition que l’intimé cache quelque chose et est donc « coupable » de ce dont il est accusé. Cette approche n’est pas impartiale et peut mener à une conclusion que la partie intimée a été privée de son droit à l’équité procédurale.

Read More

A doctor’s examination, a Tiffany’s necklace, and 3 questions to ask yourself before commenting on a colleague’s appearance

When I do respectful workplace training, one of the responses I often hear is, “Does this mean I can’t compliment my co-worker’s hair/clothes/eyes/jewelry?” My answer is always an annoyingly lawyerly one: “It depends.”

A comment that pertains to a colleague’s appearance has the potential to create a welcome personal connection. It can also cause harm. A set of recent decisions from the British Columbia Health Professions Review Board (the “Board”) provides some insight on when comments on a person’s appearance are inappropriate.

Read More

Investigating the invisible: Examining subtle racial discrimination (Part 1)

Overt racial discrimination, such as a racial slur or derogatory comment, can be easy to spot. However, the difficulty for investigators arises where an allegation of race-based discrimination seemingly does not relate to race at all. As discussed further in this post, such forms of discrimination (often dubbed “microaggressions”) are often manifested through subtle, unintentional behaviours that perpetuate stereotypes about marginalized groups.

The question then arises: how can allegations of subtle racial discrimination be investigated, let alone proven, where there is no obvious link to race? In the case study below, we outline considerations for investigators through the following scenario.

Read More

Sharing the investigation results or: How to stop worrying and have the conversation

Employers sometimes ask us for guidance on how to share the results of a workplace investigation with the parties. It’s not difficult to imagine why.

All parties to an investigation—so long as they are employees of the employer—are entitled to learn the results of the investigation, as noted in the Ministry of Labour’s Code of Practice.

Yet letting a Complainant know that his harassment complaint was not substantiated, or telling a Respondent that he engaged in bullying, is difficult information to deliver. Information like this can be physically and emotionally overwhelming for the parties to hear, and both may experience a variety of emotions in response.

Read More

Drawing the line: When performance management becomes harassment

Most of us approach our work with the intention of doing our best.  We strive to ensure that the quality of our work meets the standards that we have set for ourselves as well as those established by our employer and the clients or customers we serve.  Whether or not this objective is realized depends on a combination of factors that relate to our individual strengths and the particular conditions of our work environment.

Read More