Interviewing parties and witnesses for workplace investigations is one of the most interesting parts of being a workplace investigator. Interviews can also be one of the most challenging aspects of workplace investigations, and as a result, can also be anxiety-inducing.
In a workplace investigation, a corroborating witness is a person whose evidence supports or confirms the evidence of another witness, including a complainant or respondent. Given that people’s memories naturally fade over time, minor inconsistencies between witness accounts are often not significant and, in many cases, to be expected.
I recently conducted a workplace investigation that included an allegation that an internal workplace investigation was unfair. Several witnesses who were interviewed as part of the internal investigation had provided evidence that was favourable to the complainant, but neither party to the internal investigation was provided with an opportunity to respond to this witness evidence in a follow-up interview.
As workplace investigators, we regularly conduct interviews where the interviewee is accompanied by a representative from their union or association. Many collective agreements have provisions that allow employees to have their representative present during any interviews that are conducted as part of a workplace investigation, regardless of whether the employee participates as a party to the investigation or as a witness.
Witnesses to whom I have extended an invitation to meet with me often have questions about the process. They want to know whether they are obligated to participate, what the investigation is about, and what will be done with the information they provide.