Upcoming Webinar: October 12, 2023 @ 12:30 P.M. (EDT)  |  Ethical Issues in Workplace Investigations: The Education Sector Edition Register Today!

Serious insight for serious situations.

Serious insight for serious situations.

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The essential human rights primer for workplace investigators

While you’re here, you may wish to attend one of our upcoming workshops:

A follow-up to our popular webinar from earlier this year, “Ethical Issues in Workplace Investigations,” in this webinar, we’ll consider the unique ethical issues that arise in investigations in the education sector specifically. What is ethically appropriate (or not) as an investigator when it comes to interviewing minors, communicating with parents, and dealing with evidence from social media?

Since joining Rubin Thomlinson, I have had the opportunity to deliver workplace investigation training to hundreds of human resources professionals who are challenged in their workplaces to respond to issues of discrimination and harassment. During that time, I’ve noticed an increasing recognition of the duty to investigate these matters, and in some cases, I’ve seen a real comfort level with the key principles of the investigation process. However, even with participants who are well-versed in the practice of investigation, we often hear the same question:

“Once I gather the evidence, how do I know if it’s discrimination or harassment?”

It’s not a question that we’re surprised to hear. Often individuals tasked with conducting investigations in-house have a wealth of human resources training and experience across a range of topics, but very little training focused specifically on human rights principles. The reality, however, is that when reviewing in-house investigations, human rights tribunals expect that the investigator will have some understanding of the subject matter of the complaint. In Chuvalo v. Toronto Police Services Board, the Vice-Chair found the internal investigation flawed, and wrote:

“I find that the officer who conducted the investigation had little understanding of the issues of harassment as was evident in his failure to recognize critical evidence and his insistence on the need for corroborating evidence.  This faulty analytical framework placed an unnecessary burden on the applicant when she attempted to have the Service deal with her complaint of harassment.”

Recognizing the difficult situation that human resources professionals find themselves in, I’m pleased to be offering a new training workshop entitled The Essential Human Rights Primer for Workplace Investigators that is designed to answer the tough human rights questions they are facing. What is discrimination and harassment? How do I reconcile competing rights? When have I met the duty to accommodate? Armed with these answers (and more), participants will leave better able to conduct the necessary analysis at the conclusion of the investigation process.

Cory Boyd