What Do You Do if Someone Brings up Additional Allegations?
Aug. 8, 2021
What do you do if someone makes additional allegations during one of your interviews?
This can happen either when you are interviewing the reporting party or one of the other witnesses along the way. And it partially depends on the client, in part how well you know the client. For example, I have a government client that has to really control who investigates their various concerns. Some of those are handled internally, some of them are handled externally, and then even externally, they have to make sure that there is no bias among their external investigators and so those get spread amongst a handful of us. And so if I were to be investigating the theft of a car and somebody then makes a sexual harassment allegation, I know with that particular client that I should not do more than collect the basic facts of the allegation because it is exceptionally likely that someone else will investigate it.
With most investigations and most clients, they probably don't have nearly as many people conducting investigations, and a more likely scenario is you get called in to investigate sexual harassment, but then somebody also makes an allegation about bullying. And those two things may be very related, they may be coming from the same person or the same group or level of people, so maybe a level of management is bullying people. In those cases, you want to make sure that your client gives you explicit instructions about what to do. And you should control that as well.
So if you think the bullying allegation is very similar to the sexual harassment allegation, then you should encourage your client to regard it that way and say, "Hey, I can easily pick that up as I go forward with the other part of my investigation." Or, "Those are two totally different issues, different people are involved, different behaviors involved, I really recommend you regard this as a different investigation. And while I'm happy to document what I know so far and I'll document anything else I find out about it along the way, I'm really going to encourage you to regard this as two separate incidents that need two separate investigations."