Every employer is responsible for making sure that every person who is involved with the workplace – in any way – feels safe and respected in the work environment. A workplace investigation is conducted when there has been a complaint made by any person against an employee or volunteer of a workplace – including a supervisor or person in management – about some action or conduct by that employee/volunteer/manager, in a situation that involves the workplace or work environment, even if the action or conduct did not occur while the employee (or volunteer or manager) was performing their job duties.
A workplace investigator interviews everyone involved in the situation – which may have occurred in one incident or in several incidents over a period of time – to gather information from each person’s perspective, with a view to determining what actually occurred. In addition to finding out what happened, the workplace investigator also considers what conditions of the work environment may have contributed in some way to what happened. Based on all of the information gathered, the workplace investigator determines whether it is more likely than not that the employee/volunteer/manager engaged in some type of misconduct or wrongdoing. (While this may include potential criminal wrongdoing in some cases, the purpose of a workplace investigation is not to decide whether the employee/volunteer/manager committed any criminal offence.)
The purpose of a workplace investigation is to find out what happened, to determine whether there has been misconduct (for example, a violation of the employer’s Code of Conduct), and to recommend what action could be taken by the employer in response to what happened. The workplace investigator may also recommend changes to workplace policies or practices to make the work environment safe and comfortable for everyone who works in, or comes into contact with the workplace.
While a workplace investigator is usually hired by an employer, the role of a workplace investigator is as a neutral and independent third party. The role of a workplace investigator is not to spy on employees or collect private information about anyone.