Workplace Investigation Services

Neutral Workplace Investigations

Complaints come in many forms. Regardless of the nature of the complaint, the first step toward resolution is to have an unbiased third party conduct a fair, rapid, and thorough investigation. Psychological harassment, workplace violence, bullying, abuse of authority, and other unwanted behaviours can create a poisonous atmosphere. Workplace investigations are important because if left unaddressed, these issues can harm productivity, increase turnover, and lead to interpersonal conflict in the workplace. It can also have financial implications.

We can help.

Properly conducted workplace investigations protect employers from potential liability and other consequences.

As both a lawyer and a trained investigator, Philippe Patry is uniquely qualified to analyze potential legal ramifications and policy-related issues while respecting confidentiality and the privacy rights of all involved. Acting with both sensitivity and discretion, Philippe’s holistic, evidence-based approach is designed to achieve the best possible outcome so everyone can move forward – together.

Experience the Positive Impacts of Successful Workplace Investigations

  • Avoid legal liability for the behaviour of others as workers are entitled to a safe and healthy workplace
  • Protect the organization and employees from harm
  • Address workplace dysfunction

  • Ensure that all parties involved are heard in an efficient, neutral, and unbiased manner
  • Receive a report of findings, results, and recommendations to help parties move forward and contribute positively post-investigation

Common issues that can be resolved through Workplace Investigations

  • Abuse of authority
  • Bullying
  • Psychological harassment
  • Workplace violence
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination (e.g., racial, sexual orientation, gender, disability)
  • Interpersonal conflicts

  • Hostile labour relations climate
  • Miscommunication
  • Flawed performance review process
  • Unethical conduct
  • Nepotism
  • Violation of drug/alcohol policy

  • Abuse of authority
  • Bullying
  • Psychological harassment
  • Workplace violence
  • Sexual harassment
  • Discrimination (e.g., racial, sexual orientation, gender, disability)
  • Interpersonal conflicts
  • Hostile labour relations climate
  • Miscommunication
  • Flawed performance review process
  • Unethical conduct
  • Nepotism
  • Violation of drug/alcohol policy

Why Philippe Patry?

Resolving complex disputes and workplace conflicts requires the right approach, the right process, and the right person to bring it all together.

Philippe Patry combines decades of experience and a passion for helping others in his comprehensive, evidence-based approach to workplace resolution. Philippe is a member of the ADR Institute of Canada, a member of the Institut de médiation et d’arbitrage du Québec, a member of the BAR since 1995, and holds a Chartered Mediator (C. Med). As a bilingual lawyer, trained investigator, and dispute resolution expert with a wealth of experience in social work and psychology, Philippe is uniquely qualified to perform workplace investigations, mediations, restorations, and mindfulness services for public and private sector organizations. He has successfully serviced and established long-lasting relationships with the federal government and crown corporations, municipalities, higher education institutions, school boards, unions, healthcare, and many other areas.

Acting with sensitivity, thoughtfulness, and discretion, Philippe’s holistic, collaborative approach is designed to achieve the best possible outcome so everyone can move forward – together.

Our Method

There are 3 steps to conducting successful workplace investigations.

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Planning Phase

When planning the investigation, we begin with a phone call to discuss the following items:

  • Nature of allegations, i.e. harassment, sexual harassment, bullying, discrimination, etc.
  • Interim measures concerning the individuals involved in the workplace investigation
  • State timeframe of the investigation (starting date, duration)
  • Overview of costs and hourly rate
  • Mediation as an alternative to the investigation (also available throughout any workplace investigation)
  • Presentation of the three-step process of an investigation

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Step 1: Investigation

In this phase, we require the following details:

  • Copy of the complaint
  • Copy of any additional relevant documentation, including the client’s Harassment Policy
  • Confirmation that the respondent has been informed of all allegations
  • Contact information of the complainant, respondent, and witnesses

When we begin workplace investigations, we gather as much detail as possible by conducting interviews with individuals to obtain relevant and corroborated evidence that will be documented. Interviews can be performed in-person or virtually via Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or other video conferencing tools.

  • Interviewing the complaint
  • Interviewing the respondent
  • Interviewing other witnesses

Once interviews are conducted, we will review the evidence and establish our findings.

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Step 2: Disclosure of findings

The purpose is to meet the complainant and the respondent separately with or without the presence of HR or Labor Relations to share the conclusions of the final investigation report, lay the ground, and obtain their agreement to participate in a facilitated conversation.

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Step 3: Facilitated discussion

Restoring the workplace after an investigation is a crucial step in maintaining a positive work environment and a cohesive culture. Facilitating a conversation provides an opportunity for the complainant and the respondent to speak up, hear about the full effect of their actions and take responsibility for them, and come up with actions to be taken to repair the harm caused. This includes coaching, mindfulness training, and team-building sessions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why hire an external investigator?

  • No qualified internal investigator in the company.
  • In-house investigator is perceived to be lacking independence and impartiality
  • Complaint implicates a person who is in a position of authority over the internal investigator
  • Complaint is against a high-ranking employee within the organization
  • Severity or seriousness of the allegations to be investigated
  • Investigation involves multiple complainants and/or respondents
  • Employees are represented by a lawyer or a union representative
  • High likelihood that the complaint will be legally challenged or result in litigation
  • News of the complaint has already been diffused in the workplace or in the media

How many people will be interviewed?

  • At a minimum 2 persons: complainant and respondent
  • Investigator may also meet other witnesses who have relevant knowledge of the allegations/incidents contained in the complaint

Does every workplace complaint necessitate an investigation?

No, certain workplace complaints can be mediated rather than be investigated under a number of necessary pre-requisites:

  • Complainant and respondent are participating on a voluntary and good faith basis
  • Both employees agree to confidentiality and accept that it is a private process
  • Participants have been able to identify and articulate the issues at stake
  • Allegations raised relate to workplace conflict and not to workplace harassment such as tension between work colleagues, personality clashes, disagreements, miscommunications, difficult conversations during performance evaluations, accusations of incompetence
  • There are no significant power imbalances between the participants
  • Employer is committed to provide ongoing support to the participants after the mediation and to act swiftly on the resolutions reached

How long do workplace investigations take?

One month up to two months depending on:

  • Scope of the investigation
  • Number of allegations/incidents in the complaint
  • Number of necessary witnesses to be interviewed

What are the initial steps to an effective workplace investigation?

  • Employer takes interim measures to protect the physical and psychological safety of the employees, especially the complainant: reorganizing of working hours, temporarily changing reporting structure, or putting an employee on paid leave for the duration of the investigation
  • Employer takes precautions to preserve the evidence (documents, video, emails, etc.)
  • Employer chooses in a timely matter an experienced and qualified investigator who is available and has the required skills, practical knowledge and demeanor to conduct workplace investigations
  • Employer and investigator create an investigation plan: scope of the investigation, obtainment of relevant documents, scheduling of employees to be interviewed

Do informal complaints need to be investigated?

Yes. The employer has the duty to investigate when he is informed of an incident of workplace harassment via a verbal complaint or informal channels within the organization. The way the employer learns about the incident has no bearing on whether a workplace investigation is needed.

Workplace Investigations for Your Peace of Mind

If you need to resolve a workplace dispute or complaint, contact us for a confidential, no-obligation consultation.

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