AWI Journal Publishes First 2017 Issue


By Susan Woolley, Editor

Welcome to the latest edition of the AWI Journal. AWI continues to be on a wonderful adventure, and I’m so glad we are traveling together.

Kicking off this edition, Marguerite Malloy introduces us to Vasquez v. Empress Ambulance Service, Inc. In this case, the Second Circuit adopted the “cat’s paw” theory of liability. The term cat’s paw comes from a fable by Aesop, in which a hungry and devious monkey cajoles a gullible cat to reach into a fire to retrieve some roasting nuts. The cat ends up with singed paws and no snack—cats don’t eat nuts, but monkeys sure do. In employment cases, a cat’s paw theory allows an employer to be held responsible when a supervisor who has no discriminatory intent does the bidding of an employee who harbors such animus toward the target employee. The twist in Vasquez is the role played by a deficient investigation. Lest you think this is a case only a law professor could love, Marguerite brings it down to earth and ties the lessons of Vasquez directly to AWI’s Guiding Principles.

Moving from case law to the trenches of internal investigations, Angela Reddock-Wright, Camille Townsend, and I present “Inside Out: Challenges and Innovations in Handling Internal Workplace Complaints.” The idea for this article (and the 2016 AWI conference presentation of the same name) grew out of our work together with the Los Angeles County Equity Oversight Panel. We hope our pooled experience and insights are useful to internal and external investigators alike.

As many of you know, the California Court of Appeal last year upheld the privileged nature of a neutral workplace investigation in Petaluma v. Superior Court (Waters). In her article on this case, Gabrielle Handler Marks walks us through the pertinent facts and findings. Lawyers and nonlawyers alike will want to keep her clear explanation close at hand.

Beth Gramigna has done a deep dive into the 2016 EEOC Task Force recommendations. Her article, “Harassment in the Workplace,” is a streamlined and practical look at the latest from the EEOC (as of this writing).

Lastly, Associate Justice Mary-Jane Ierodiaconou has written about statutes in Victoria, Australia, that govern private security work and might affect the conduct of workplace investigations. The question of who can conduct investigations when such statutes are in place is one that the Journal has addressed in the past and that continues to inspire lively debate among investigators. We can now have that conversation internationally!

Many thanks to our volunteers, who provide the articles you are about to enjoy. And special thanks to Chuleenan Svetvilas, who keeps this ship on course.