LP Magazine

MAR-APR 2018

LP magazine publishes articles for loss prevention, asset protection, and retail professionals covering shrinkage, investigations, shoplifting, internal theft, fraud, technology, best practices, and career development.

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by David E. Zulawski, CFI, CFE and Shane G. Sturman, CFI, CPP Zulawski and Sturman are executives in the investigative and training firm of Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates (w-z.com). Zulawski is a senior partner, and Sturman is president. Sturman is also a member of ASIS International's Retail Loss Prevention Council. They can be reached at 800-222-7789 or via email at dzulawski@w-z.com and ssturman@w-z.com. © 2018 Wicklander-Zulawski & Associates, Inc. continued on page 14 INTERVIEWING The first interview to be conducted has to be an in-depth conversation with the complainant. This is a critical conversation that will help establish the timeline of events, the context surrounding the events, and perhaps even the truthfulness of the allegations. 12 MARCH–APRIL 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM Life Is Like a Circle: Part One L ife is like a circle. What goes around comes around, and karma catches up with people. The recent uproar over sexual harassment allegations seemed like déjà vu to us, maybe because we are older than many of our readers. Thinking back to what was so familiar got us to thinking about the start of our business in 1982. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) began focusing on sexual harassment in the mid-1970s arguing that it was unlawful to make employment decisions based on "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature." The EEOC ruled unwelcome sexual activity violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. After the EEOC finding, companies initiated training to deal with harassment. It was 1991 when the flood gates, much like today, really opened. Then, as now, a powerful man allegedly was making sexual comments to a less powerful subordinate. The issue revolved around then U.S. Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas as he was being considered for a position of justice in the highest court in the land. Anita Hill had worked for him in the US Department of Education and alleged that Thomas had constantly barraged her with pornography and discussions of sex acts. While Thomas was confirmed to the court, this became one of the most famous sexual harassment cases in the history of the United States. Hill's testimony and the publicity surrounding it swelled the filing of sexual harassment complaints and resulted in numerous payouts from court settlements as well. It was during this time that we created interviews to deal with the specialized "he said she said" sexual harassment cases. In these cases there were generally no witnesses or corroborating evidence to support one side or the other. Many organizations struggled with these investigations as they tried to determine who was telling the truth. Compounding the problem were internal biases for the offender who often was a long-term valued associate who was important to the business. Since many of the offenders held important positions and provided a strong economic advantage for the organization, the companies chose to pay off the complainant while retaining the harasser. Unfortunately, these people rarely change their ways and only went on to sexually harass and intimidate others. Today in many organizations, the loss prevention function assists human resources in investigating allegations of sexual misconduct, bullying, and hostile workplace situations. These types of cases are very different from investigations of dishonest associates and require a different set of skills and interview tools. Where the investigation of theft may be accomplished by installing a video, examining inventory data, or looking at register media to establish the case, the sexual harassment allegations may require the interviewing of multiple people to establish a timeline and personal backgrounds or to retrieve memories of conversations or events. At the end of the investigation the ultimate decision of who is telling the truth might be based on the investigator's assessment of the interviews conducted. Organizing the Investigation The investigation can begin in many ways depending on how the outcry was received. Obviously, in some cases it would come from the victim, but it could also come from coworkers, anonymous sources, or relatives. The first complaint delivered to the company must be collected carefully and documented in terms of times and dates. Generally, it is best to obtain a statement from the "reporter" of the event detailing the allegations and the parties involved. The statement could be taken in written form or recorded to

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