Remaining UMELI Questions!

A few questions from the Upper Midwest Institute ended up on the bottom of my briefcase, and were found only when repacking for a trip out of town.  My apologies, and here they are:

After much research and preparation I was heavily criticized by Union counsel for asking open ended questions to an employee about that employee’s conduct.  Union claimed that I baited the trap and “caused” the employee to get into bigger trouble — the employee lie about illegal conduct and was fired, primarily for illegal conduct, not the lies–GOOD OR NOT?

It sounds like counsel was unhappy with the outcome, but I disagree that asking open ended questions is in any way improper.  Without beginning our inquiry with an opportunity for a witness to tell us THEIR story in THEIR words, we run a far greater risk of appearing to “put words in their mouths.”  If, in response to an open ended question, and employee truthfully and remorsefully “comes clean” with misconduct, it could actually end up with a more favorable disposition for the employee, so the open ended question, in essence, cuts both ways.

Do you recommend specifying that employees cannot have an attorney present in your (checklist?)

I don’t include this is in my checklist.  Most employees don’t ask to have an attorney present, and if they do, I explain the company’s policy.

Does an intake form need to be kept in a separate file from the employee file or the supervisor form?

I recommend that supervisors keep intake forms in a file that is chronological.  Once a year, the forms should be archived according to organizational policy.

What are the qualities of a good investigator?

Here are some of my top ones:

  • Quick thinking
  • Be analytical but also intuitive
  • Extremely verbally facile
  • Good multitasker
  • Strong willed and courageous
  • Adaptable
  • Be able to see the big picture as well as the details
  • Curious and inquisitive (aka nosey!)
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