One of the questions we are often asked is how much information should be disclosed to a respondent during an investigation. Some feel that respondents are more likely to provide honest and candid information if they are taken by surprise as opposed to having advance notice of the allegations and supporting evidence. The fear is that with the information, a respondent may have more time to concoct a story in response to the allegations and evidence. The problem with this tactic is that it is premised on an underlying assumption that the respondent has something to hide and is therefore “guilty” of the allegations. Such an approach is not impartial. It also risks being found to be procedurally unfair.
It certainly seems that way. A recent annotated bibliography by the University of Calgary presents some pretty staggering data that suggests that academic dishonesty is “widespread amongst Canadian students and faculty.” The authors reviewed 68 studies on academic integrity performed in Canada up to and including 2017. The paper states that between half and 90% of students self-report academically dishonest behaviours.
Policies and procedures serve many roles in the workplace. In simplest terms, a policy sets out the legislation-mandated as well as the expected standards of behaviour for employees and stakeholders. Procedures provide a how-to guide to direct individuals where to go when they question the behavior they see or experience.
A complainant files a harassment or discrimination complaint and then quits. A respondent says the allegations are ridiculous and refuses to participate.
What do you do when the individuals who have the most important information refuse to participate in a workplace investigation?