Workplace Investigations – Starting with the Scope: Learnings from Brett Kavanaugh

by 4 Nov 2019Workplace Investigations

As reported by US national news media in recent days, “new misconduct allegations against the Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh were known, yet not fully investigated by Congressional investigators or federal law enforcement personnel. The Senate Judiciary Committee limited the scope of the Kavanaugh pre-confirmation investigation to one week and nine witnesses, all of whom were made available by the Committee majority”. Comment has been made regarding the need to ensure that proper scope and terms of reference for an investigation are made to enable good faith analyses and findings.

Robin Pogrebin and Kate Kelly have researched allegations by Deborah Ramirez, a Yale alumna who says that Mr Kavanaugh put his genitals “in her face during a college party when they were both freshmen. They also raise allegations of a similar incident detailed by a male Yale classmate, though neither he nor the woman allegedly involved speaks publicly about it”. Their research and findings were published in an essay in the New York Times and in a book titled ‘The Education of Brett Kavanaugh’.

Pogrebin and Kelly found that “Ms. Ramirez’s legal team gave the F.B.I. a list of at least 25 individuals who may have had corroborating evidence. But the bureau — in its supplemental background investigation — interviewed none of them, though we learned many of these potential witnesses tried in vain to reach the F.B.I. on their own”.

Mr. Kavanaugh, has “adamantly denied Ms. Ramirez’s claims. Those claims became a flash point during his confirmation process last year, when he was also fighting other sexual misconduct allegations from Dr Christine Blasey Ford, who had attended a Washington-area high school near his”.

Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI) President Keith Rohman, who led investigations of alleged abuses at Abu Ghraib during the Iraq War and of the Rodney King beating incident in Los Angeles, recently said, “An effective investigation should be fair to both the accused and the accuser. Calling something an ‘investigation’ does not make it so. Regardless of one’s political inclinations, no one should be surprised by this development in the Kavanaugh matter. Many aspects of the Kavanaugh confirmation should concern Republicans and Democrats alike.”

When conducting workplace investigations, Farren McRae Workplace Lawyers and Consultants, works closely with Case Managers to ensure that the scope and terms of reference for investigations are appropriate to the individual facts of each case, allowing us the scope to conduct an independent investigation into all of the relevant matters at issue, without straying into irrelevant areas or conducting what is colloquially called a ‘Royal Commission’, which is costly, time consuming and of little to no value to clients.

 

 

Alison McRae

Alison McRae is a Director with Farren McRae Workplace Lawyers and Consulting. She specialises in complex workplace investigations across the public and private sectors. Thorough, meticulous and insightful, Alison easily teases out the core as well as the underlying sub-issues impacting on the matter. Alison also has extensive experience in policy and compliance, both in the government and independent education sectors.

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