Time has always been of the essence in workplace investigations. In our practice, we go so far as to qualify time as one of the pillars of an investigation. As considerable as it already is, its importance may have reached another level with the recent decision in Toronto District School Board v. Canadian Union of Public Employees, Local 44001. In that case, Arbitrator John Stout found the failure to conduct a timely investigation to be a stand-alone ground to conclude a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code (“the Code”).
How many of you can relate to that feeling of relief and maybe even joy when you are “oh so close” to completing a task. As a workplace investigator, I can definitely relate. In my experience, it is a great feeling knowing that I am close to placing a checkmark beside an investigation and moving that investigation file to the “closed” section of my files.
Good investigators worry about timeliness – it’s a requirement of the job. On the one hand, we understand that we must be thorough and produce a good, legally defensible investigation report. On the other, we also know that there are parties and clients (whether internal or external), waiting for the results of the investigation.