This is a question that I have had to answer a few times in the last year. Here is a description of each process and the main differences between the two.
What seems like a really long time ago, I wrote in one of my blogs that I would be doing a series on whistleblowing. It seemed like a great idea at the time: there isn’t that much practical information about whistleblowing out there and I have a lot to share on the topic given that I have done work in this field for many years. But then, a pandemic happened, and my “series” didn’t quite get off the ground. I’ve come back to the topic, though, as I’ve been fielding some questions about it lately.
In my last blog, I discussed “Restoring the workplace before a harassment or discrimination investigation.” However, what if the horse is already out the barn? An investigation has been conducted; relationships in the workplace are broken; the environment has become toxic because of the situation, the investigation, or both; there is a lack of trust; productivity is low; and/or communication is poor. How do you restore the workplace now?
Fortunately, or unfortunately, harassment and discrimination investigations have become quite prevalent in the workplace in recent years. Notwithstanding the legislative mandate, it is a positive indication when organizations are responding to complaints of harassment and discrimination within their workplace. However, in my experience as a workplace investigator, I often see quite clearly that, before an organization decides to pursue an investigation, there are multiple opportunities to address some of the issues by using less adversarial means.
In our workplace investigation training sessions, we often talk about “the four pillars” of the investigation process — fairness, thoroughness, timeliness, and confidentiality — as the foundation of a solid investigation. Here, I briefly explain how “cancel culture” can impact fairness, thoroughness, and confidentiality.
My first experience with a workplace investigation was vicariously first-hand, when a close friend of mine was named as a respondent and I became their de facto support person. The investigation was ongoing for three months. During that time, my friend ate, slept, and breathed that investigation.
It has become somewhat of a Rubin Thomlinson tradition to host a webinar at the beginning of each year outlining our top 10 workplace investigation cases from the previous year. On January 14, 2021, we hosted our most well-attended webinar yet: The top 10 cases of 2020. Here are the discussed themes and a very brief summary of the presentation.
It seems like every time I see the news or read the paper, there are stories of trauma everywhere. This is partially because, sometimes, these are the stories the media features for “clicks.” But I think, more importantly, this is because trauma is just incredibly prevalent in the human experience.