Credibility Assessments

Inevitably, if a professional is conducting workplace investigations, you will encounter a situation where there is no evidence to prove if an allegation occurred or not.  In the absence of corroborative evidence, or witness accounts, the workplace investigator may determine that a factual dispute is unsubstantiated.  Alternatively, the workplace investigator may decide that an allegation is more likely than not to have occurred as alleged based on the credibility of the workplace investigation participants. In order to make determinations on the reliability or credibility of workplace investigation participants, the workplace investigator must conduct credibility assessments of the Complainant, the Respondent and even the witness(es).  In detecting deception/a lack of credibility, workplace investigators search for the following cues:

Not Directly Answering a Question

Guilty people, or those who lack credibility, often will not specifically and directly deny committing an allegation.  Simply put, a Respondent may not really answer questions regarding their alleged inappropriate behaviour.  As an example, if a Respondent lacks credibility and they are asked – “have you called the Complainant names” they may reply by saying:

  • “this is impossible”
  • “this is sickening”
  • “I am a great employee”

while avoiding answering the actual question with a simple “no”.

Distancing Statements

Unreliable people, who lack credibility, often use language which minimizes the value of something or impersonalizes another person.  For example, guilty Respondents will not often call their sexual harassment victim by their name.  Rather, throughout their workplace investigation interview, they will impersonalize their victim by calling them

  • “that guy”, or;
  • “that kid”

Turning the Attention of the Workplace Investigator

Workplace investigation interview participants who lack credibility may attempt to turn the attention of the workplace investigator to allegations they make against other workplace investigation participants.  For example, a respondent who lacks credibility may share the Complainant:

  • Is regularly late for work, or;
  • has skipped safety meetings.

Contradicting Themselves

People who lack credibility may contradict themselves or they may simply be contradicted by witnesses or the evidence.

Once the credibility assessments are complete, a workplace investigator can determine if they prefer the evidence of the Complainant or the Respondent in resolving factual disputes.

For more information on assessing the reliability of workplace investigation participants please call Dawn Hillrud at 306.442.7460 or email her at  Dawn is certified in advance workplace investigation techniques and has specific training in assessing credibility.

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