What is a workplace investigation?
A workplace investigation is triggered when an employer receives a complaint about one of their employees. The investigation can take many forms: informal discussions with the parties, a formal investigation done by someone within the company, a formal investigation done by an external party hired for the purpose of doing an investigation.
As the name implies, the purpose of the investigation is to discover all of the facts surrounding the events in question. Once those facts have been determined, the investigator will provide a type of report to the employer. That report may or may not include recommendations. It is up to the employer to decide what to do with the results of the investigation.
The most common formal investigations involve allegations of bullying and harassment or sexual harassment. WorkSafe BC requires all employers to have a respectful workplace or bullying and harassment policy. Investigations of bullying or harassment will be conducted in accordance with that policy.
I’m the person making the complaint, what are my rights?
As the complainant, you will be protected from retaliation either under whistleblower protections or the terms of the bullying and harassment policy.
You are entitled to have your complaint taken seriously and investigated fully. You should be allowed to provide whatever evidence you feel supports your complaint including documents like emails and texts.
If you are uncomfortable discussing your complaint alone, you can ask to have a support person attend the investigation meeting with you. You do not need to have a lawyer present in most cases.
If you believe that the person investigating is biased, you are entitled to ask for another investigator to be appointed. However, your employer may or may not agree to this request.
If you refuse to participate in the investigation, your complaint may be dismissed without further investigation, or your employer may decide to conduct the investigation based on what has already been raised and contact other possible witnesses even if you are unwilling to be interviewed.
I’m being investigated, what are my rights?
As a person being investigated you are entitled to due process which includes: knowing the details of the allegations against you, often including the name of the “accuser”; the evidence that has been provided to support the complaint; having an opportunity to respond to the complaint and the evidence; and ability to provide your own supporting evidence to defend yourself.
You are entitled to have a support person attend interviews with you. You may or may not choose to have a lawyer attend the interview with you.
Who gets to know the outcome of an investigation?
Normally, the investigation report is only provided to the employer and the employer will provide a summary to the person that was investigated. The person who made the complaint may or may not receive a copy of the summary.
If there is any discipline imposed on the person investigated (like suspension or termination) that will not be shared with anyone other than that employee.