Bias – whether conscious or unconscious – is a problem that workplace investigators grapple with in many forms. Perhaps bias is exactly what we’ve been asked to investigate: was the complainant treated differently at work on the basis of her gender, race or religion? Or, maybe we’re concerned that our own biases are affecting our investigation: do I believe the respondent’s evidence just because he looks and talks like me?
It’s no secret that workplace investigations can be an emotionally charged process. To that end, it is not uncommon for individuals who are interviewed during an investigation to become visibly upset or frustrated. However, it is an altogether different situation where an interviewee becomes downright aggressive, hostile or disrespectful towards the investigator.
Investigations of misconduct within schools, sports organizations, churches, and community or recreational organizations or programs can involve children as parties and/or witnesses. Any investigation that involves children presents a challenge for investigators for a variety of reasons. On a human level, the vulnerability of a possible child victim of misconduct is taxing to deal with emotionally and psychologically. And the investigator bears the added burden of trying to ensure that no additional harm is visited on the child through the investigation process. In considering the role of an investigator as someone who must collect evidence from a child, the challenge for the investigator is to find an approach that will enable the child to provide the best evidence they can. The additional challenge here is that there are limited resources available to guide investigations that involve child parties or witnesses.