LP Magazine

MAY-JUN 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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seriously. Not updating the victim or complainant could lead to civil suits because they didn't believe the company was pursuing their allegations. In addition, timeliness is important to clear innocent people whose reputations could be sullied and to protect employees from any further misconduct if the allegations are substantiated. In the event of a civil suit alleging discrimination, retaliation, or harassment, the timeliness and thoroughness of an investigation can mitigate some of the organization's liability. Recording Interviews Certainly, the most thorough way of documenting what went on during the interview and the information obtained would be through recording the conversation. This can be valuable since others can hear firsthand what the victim said and the emotions at play as the story was told. However, many organizations have a blanket policy not to record interviews or allow those being interviewed to record the conversation. Again, the National Labor Relations Board recently decided that an employee can record conversations ( Whole Foods Market, Inc. and United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 919 and Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago ). If the subject of an interview wants to record, the investigator should consult with the organization's general counsel, outside labor lawyer, or at a minimum with their supervisor before rejecting the request. If a decision were made to allow the associate to record a conversation, we would encourage the investigator also to record the conversation so that any tampering with the recording would be readily evident. With the sophistication and availability of editing tools, conversations can be deleted or altered even by those who might be less sophisticated in operating a computer. At a minimum, the investigator should keep handwritten notes of the conversation including the location in which it was conducted and the times it began and ended. In addition, any requests to use the restroom, obtain water, or anything else should be documented, and the time that they occurred should be noted. The investigator's notes should also reflect any specific statements made by the subject in quotation marks to reflect the exact words that were used. On occasion it may be useful for the investigator to have the subject of the conversation initial areas of the investigator's notes to indicate correctness even before having the individual write a statement containing the relevant information. Protect Identity and Evidence The investigator should protect the identity of witnesses who cooperate in the investigation. These witnesses should also be alerted that if they face any retaliation for cooperating in the investigation, they should contact the investigator immediately. Any evidence recovered from cooperating witnesses or other subjects should be properly logged into an evidence file. Original documents should always be obtained and, if necessary, a copy retained by the owner. Any evidence should be stored in a secure location and safeguarded from tampering. This evidence and any witness statements should be kept confidential and limited to only those who have a need to know. Preparing for the Interview Once the investigator has obtained a complete list of those to be interviewed and their locations and completed the background investigation, it's time to prepare for the actual interviews. Since the investigator is interviewing employees who serve an important business function within the organization, they must make sure the department is adequately staffed while the associate sits for the interview. This may require that the individual's supervisor be alerted of the intention to interview the employee. This can be done either by the investigator or someone who knows the general purpose of the investigation. Depending on the investigative plan, the supervisor may be told the reason for the conversation but should not be made aware of the direction of the investigation or who is being interviewed. The supervisor should also be made aware of the potential for retaliation or other reactions that might affect the associate. Depending on the investigative plan, the associate might be interviewed at an on-site location or asked to meet the investigator off-site. The decision to do either may affect the spread of rumors or prompt retaliation. Whichever location is chosen, it should provide privacy and limit any embarrassment for the person being interviewed. There is nothing more uncomfortable than having coworkers walking past the conversation looking into the room through glass doors or walls. The investigator should also have a suitable witness present to listen to the conversation and take notes. If the investigator plans to record the encounter, the use of a witness becomes more of an option. Like any traditional internal investigation, the employee's supervisor should be alerted to the conversation and provide any assistance necessary to the investigator. Many organizations partner with the human resource manager either to witness the conversation or to support the investigator in arranging locations and times for the interviews. In the next part of this series, we will address the actual interview process of the victim, witness, and alleged harasser. These can be especially difficult investigations because there may be no witness to the event other than the two parties. These two parties may tell amazingly different stories about what occurred in the incident. We will look to the structure of the interview and some of the telltale signs of a truthful story to help in judging the veracity of the parties in part three of this series. continued from page 12 On occasion it may be useful for the investigator to have the subject of the conversation initial areas of the investigator's notes to indicate correctness even before having the individual write a statement containing the relevant information. 14 MAY–JUNE 2018 | LOSSPREVENTIONMEDIA.COM

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