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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Workplace Investigations:NYC Employees are in Danger

In New York City, employees of the City of New York are in danger. My personal opinion is - and I have been victimized, threatened, and my kids have been harmed - that we must look at the personnel records of Department of Investigations Rose Gill Hearn (pictured below) and of Special Commissioner of Investigation Richard Condon (pictured at right).

New York City's Commissioner of the Dept. of Investigation Rose Gill Hearn listens to a report during a Dept. of Investigation Comm Stat meeting, Friday Aug. 15, 2008. Under the leadership of Hearn, 46, a blunt former federal prosecutor, the DOI has moved aggressively to counter any impressions that it wasn't willing to tackle serious cases - ones that could potentially embarrass a mayoral administration.

Both these people say that they are independent of the City of New York, yet they are both paid by the City. Richard Condon, for example, is paid by the Department of Education, just like Joel Klein and the Parent Coordinators are. Go to my blog at "News to Use: New York City Government Payroll, FOIL, PERB, Budget, and more", then click "Payrolls", "Search City Government", and Branch/Entity: New York,
Agency: Education Admin, Dep. and Sub-Agency: Education Admin, Dep., then "Condon, Richard". You can do the same for Joel Klein, your school's Parent Coordinator/"Community Associate", etc.

Proof, I believe, that Richard Condon is NOT independent and cannot be impartial in any investigation. News to use.

We parents, teachers and interested taxpayers are buying the services of an 'investigator' paid by the very agency who is victimizing and harming our lives and careers?

Why dont we all do something?

I have put together an article on the generalities involved in a "fair" - unbiased, impartial - investigation, and will write about Mr. Condon and his colleagues Rose Gill Hearn and Thomas Fennell soon.

Betsy Combier

NYS Department of Labor

Workplace Investigations - Who Should Conduct The Investigation?

In determining who should conduct a workplace investigation, the nature of the conduct alleged, the persons accused, and persons available with the necessary level of investigation training and experience must be considered. The investigator must be fair and impartial with respect to the issues and the parties. Common choices in the selection of an investigator include human resources personnel, attorneys, outside consultants, and law enforcement personnel. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of each choice.

Human Resources: HR personnel will likely be familiar with the employees involved and have extensive knowledge of the employer's policies, practices and culture. However the openness of communication could be impeded and cause a fear of retaliation.

Attorneys: Attorneys will likely be aware of legal boundaries, but may or may not be a good investigator or interviewer. They also may be unfamiliar with the employer's policies, practices and culture. An attorney may be more useful as an overseer of the entire investigative process.

Outside Consultant: An outside consultant may appear more objective and neutral than insiders, particularly if upper management is accused. There is also less risk of a confidentiality breach. However, as with attorneys, an outside consultant may not be familiar with the employer's policies, practices, and culture.

Law Enforcement Personnel: A law enforcement personnel must provide Miranda warnings and other constitutional protections to the accused. Also, the employer looses a great deal of investigative control when using law enforcement personnel. Lack of familiarity or interest in the organization's policies, practices, and culture could be considered a negative. Plus, due to a reasonable doubt standard of proof, there may be a need to impose higher investigative standards than necessary.

Whoever is selected to investigate, it should be someone who:

* understands the purpose of the investigation,
* appreciates the legal and practical issues,
* knows the employer's practices, policies, and culture,
* has good interviewing skills,
* is credible, respected and impartial,
* would be effective as a witness,
* is able to maintain confidentiality,
* pays attention to detail, resolves inconsistencies, addresses all open issues and prepares good documentation, and
* can weigh competing and conflicting information, make a recommendation to the decision make and support it.

And finally, a good investigator is someone who can execute the plan but is flexible enough to adapt to the twists and turns that arise during workplace investigations.