Social media can be a great way to connect with friends and family, especially those people we don’t often get to visit in person. Unfortunately, social media can also be a venue in which workers make demeaning, threatening, and insulting comments about colleagues and supervisors.
Workplace investigations are not for the faint of heart. The sensitive subject matter and high stakes often cause tensions to run high, not just for the parties, but also potentially for investigators.
Workplace investigations have been around for quite some time as a way for diligent employers to address potential issues hindering the workplace. If, as a result of its long-standing use, they no longer appear cryptic in the eyes of some employees and employers, they still carry a perfume of mystery and elicit questions for many others. In my practice, most of the questions I hear from parties and witnesses in an investigation are procedure-based, pertaining to confidentiality or the length of the process.
In the last blog in this series, I wrote about the different types of wrongdoing that whistleblowers report. In this blog, I have set out some practical tips about establishing contact with a whistleblower who has reported wrongdoing.
In my last blog, I wrote about the importance of plain language. I wanted to do one more blog on this because I came across a “real life” example that illustrates the point nicely. I’m definitely not one for sports analogies and stories. First, not everyone can understand or relate to them. Second, they bore me a little (especially any story that involves a detailed play-by-play). But for this blog, I had to make an exception…
Alcohol and work events often don’t mix well. Some know this from personal experience. Others, like us, are called upon to investigate allegations arising from work events at which alcohol and “good times” were flowing freely. It will come as no surprise that, as workplace investigators, the issue of alcohol consumption and intoxication pops up with some frequency in our work.
In my previous life, before becoming an investigator, I lived in the world of private legal practice, both in the Caribbean and in Ontario, Canada. In that role, I had the opportunity of interacting with persons of diverse social, cultural and racial backgrounds, persons of varying personality types and persons with experiences that had shaped their life or the way they interacted with others. There were many occasions where the persons with whom I interacted, whether as their advocate or as opposing counsel, were seemingly not forthcoming with the information that I needed to illicit. The typical or traditional thinking is that they are not forthcoming because they are either lying or have something to hide.
Examples of problematic workplace behaviours often include the obvious: a racial slur, a homophobic “joke” or inappropriate touching. But what happens when the behaviour in question is less overt? While seemingly innocuous, these types of comments can amount to what has been dubbed “microaggressions”. Named the ‘Top Word of 2015’ by the Global Language Monitor, this term has become increasingly popular in our common parlance. But what are microaggressions and why should employers (and other institutions) be concerned about them?