Bruce’s Summary: If you’ve not heard of the “Cat’s Paw” theory, then take note, another great reason to ensure thorough and complete investigations are performed. The author gives examples of some recent court cases that open the door a little wider for the theory to be used. One showing evidence that a superior influenced the employee’s termination and the other showing how an employer negligently gave effect to the retaliatory intent of a non-supervisory co-worker.
Whether the investigator is internal or external, the investigator has always had a fiduciary responsibility to conduct a thorough and neutral investigation. The author further emphasized to ensure that such investigations take into account possible retaliatory or discriminatory motives of supervisors and co-workers who provide information, especially if the investigation could result in an adverse action against an employee. Deciphering the gray, in an investigation, has and will always be a challenge for investigators in understanding a human being’s motives and intentions, however, as noted, the potential liability just got a little sharper. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com