Workplace investigations haven’t stopped due to remote working and social distancing, but the process and types of complaints have drastically changed, creating unique challenges for investigators. Interviewed by San Gabriel Valley Tribune, KNX-AM and KFI-AM, Ann Fromholz discussed that many of today’s workplace complaints are tied to comments or threats made over email, Slack, phone texts or other electronic channels.
Fromholz pointed out that at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement there was a surge in harassment allegations that has carried over to today. “I’ve seen a real increase in racial discrimination complaints. I’ve investigated situations where people have complained that they’ve been retaliated against for participating in a protest. And it’s not necessarily that they’ve taken time off from work — just that they participated in the protest,” Fromholz told the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Early in the pandemic, the shift to virtual investigations also presented some challenges with using video technology, but a year later, most witnesses are accustomed to video calls. “The discomfort and lack of familiarity with video-conferencing platforms has largely gone away.”
Fromholz added that some investigators feel video technology has compromised the interview process because they can no longer evaluate a person’s body language. “Guidance from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing specifically says that most investigators are not trained experts in evaluating body language and therefore shouldn’t do it,” she said.
By taking that out of the equation, Fromholz said investigators can focus more closely on the fundamentals — pertinent documents, employees who offer corroboration of alleged wrongdoing and others who may contradict the claims.