Turning around the uncooperative interview

February 9, 2015       The NonProfit Times      

The hope of any manager who has to investigate an accusation of misbehavior by an employee is that the investigation into the charges will go smoothly and quickly, that there will be no extremely ruffled feathers and that everything will be fine and dandy once the investigation is concluded.

Pipe dream alert.

Could all of the above happen? Sure. What is the likelihood? Not so good.

During the 2014 Nonprofit Risk Summit, Frank M. Pawlak, an attorney with more than 30 years representing management in labor and employment law, reminded managers that they should not assume that an employee being investigated on a charge of wrongdoing will be happy about the process or being willing to take place in what many will see as their own, or a close friend’s, execution.

Pawlak emphasized the following when an interviewee is uncooperative:

  •   Remember that a refusal to cooperate does not mean someone is guilty;
  •   Explain the potential negative implications for refusing to cooperate;
  •   Explain that if the interviewee refuses to cooperate, a decision will be made without the individual’s input and might result in insubordination charges;
  •   Be prepared for the following defenses;
  •   A Constitutional right of free speech;
  •   No bad intent;
  •  The right against self-incrimination;
  •  Conduct was not directed at any victim; and,
  •  The complainant could not have been offended.