Bystanders and workplace harassment: How inaction can lead to workplace complaints

A frequent scenario repeats in our work: Offensive conduct, multiple witnesses (or “bystanders”), never reported. Investigators know that bystanders play a key role in workplace complaints; their evidence is often integral to discovering what happened. Bystanders can also play an important role in preventing – or minimizing – workplace misconduct from ripening into a situation where our services as workplace investigators are critical.

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Eight Tips for Fostering Trust in Workplace Investigations

A workplace investigation can be an intricate puzzle of contradictory stories, different perceptions and a volume of documents. We rely heavily on witness participation – and therefore witness trust – to fully understand what happened and sometimes, who to believe. In non-statutory assignments, we seldom have the power of subpoena and we depend heavily on voluntary participation. Without subpoena powers, we need to find other ways to gain witness trust and open the door to full and honest participation.

Once witness trust is gained, the evidence gathered without subpoena can often be more fulsome and generally more helpful than that gained by subpoena.  Better quality evidence leads to a more dependable outcome.

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