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2019 AWI Annual Conference Schedule
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2019 AWI Conference

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Schedule is subject to change.

Thursday, September 26

11:30 am - 5:00 pm


1:00 - 1:30 pm

President's Welcome

1:30 - 2:45 pm

How to Persuade Claimant's Counsel to Cooperate with Your Workplace Investigation

Panel: J. Bernard Alexander, III, Esq. and Adam Levin
Moderator: Nancy Bornn

A lively debate amongst an investigator, claimant's counsel, and management lawyer is proposed. They will discuss their respective POVs where a claimant is represented by counsel and the employer wants to conduct an investigation. E.g., the investigator will speak on why an interview with claimant is desired; claimant's counsel will speak on why he/she is not inclined to cooperate with your investigation, and the employer attorney will discuss why the employer is not willing to agree to provide any portion of the investigation file to such counsel as a condition to such cooperation. In the end, several suggestions will be made on how to address each of their needs and goals.

2:45 - 3:15 pm


3:15 - 4:30 pm

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: The Impact of Race in Investigations

Christina Ro-Connolly, Alezah Trigueros, and Zaneta Butscher Seidel

Investigations almost always require us to handle complaints involving people with different identities, backgrounds, and lived experiences than our own. This often involves interviewing and building rapport with parties and witnesses of a different race. Conducting effective interviews and garnering trust in the process despite the racial differences in the interview room can been challenging for all investigators. This calls for heightened skills and sensitivity to the unspoken tensions that an investigator's race can add to an investigation, an understanding of our own and other people's biases, and highlights the inherent benefits that stem from cultivating diverse and culturally competent investigators. There is often more at play in an investigation than the alleged facts on the table. Often times, there are unspoken dynamics that might affect an investigation from the outset. In cases involving allegations of racial discrimination or race-based harassment, the race of an investigator can present unique challenges and benefits in the investigative process. Assigning an investigator of the same race as the complainant can serve to put the complainant at ease and make the complainant feel heard. On the other hand, this could cause a respondent of a different race than the investigator to worry that he/she will not be heard or understood and could activate more bias on the part of some individuals. Thus, the investigator's race can be an elephant in the room that clients, parties and the investigator must navigate to have a successful investigation and bring about resolution of a complaint. This presentation identifies common issues that arise during the course of an investigation related to the race, or perceived race, of the investigator. Three attorneys of color from different racial backgrounds will use hypothetical scenarios and examples from their practice to discuss ways that an investigator's race can be an asset and a challenge in investigations, how to respond to client requests for an investigator of color, tools and tips for interviewing across racial differences, and why investigators should be self-aware about bias and how their race and cultural competency can influence their investigations.

4:30 - 4:45 pm


4:45 - 5:30 pm

How to Believe Women and Maintain the Integrity of Your Investigation

Kristen Prinz and Christina Hynes Mesco

If the #MeToo movement has taught us anything,  it is the critical need to believe women, a mantra splashed all over the press, pasted on protest signs, and demanded by victims...but not always adhered to by HR departments and other investigators. Yet workplace investigators find themselves in a very tough role: even if they believe women, they must remain neutral and only make conclusions insofar as the facts allow. How can responsible investigators balance objectivity and compassion? How can they rigorously analyze witness credibility, weigh potential liability, and show respect to potential victims, all at the same time? This workshop will help investigators form responses to these questions, keeping in mind the particular contexts in which they routinely operate.

6:00 - 9:00 pm

Networking Dinner Ticketed event, pre-registration is required.

Friday, September 27

7:45 am - 5:00 pm


7:45 - 9:00 am

Continental Breakfast

7:45 - 8:15 am

Optional Committee Meetings: Details to be provided to committee members. If you are interested in joining one of the committees, please visit our Committee Page.

8:30 - 8:45 am


8:45 - 9:45 am

The Future of Workplace Investigations: Anticipating and Implementing Emergent Investigation Practices

Jennifer Brown Shaw and Lisa Buehler

Internal employment claims continue to rise after the surge of the #MeToo movement. Employers are more sophisticated in their investigation needs and demand the highest caliber investigations. To meet the greater needs of employers, internal and external investigators of all kinds are expected to conduct superior investigations and generate exceptional reports. This program will engage the audience in an exploration of developing and potential trends in investigation techniques. We will explore whether these emergent practices are consistent with established standards of conducting impartial investigations and how investigators can use them to conduct efficient and affordable investigations.

9:45 - 10:00 am


10:00 - 10:45 am

Next Steps: What Investigators Need to Know After the Investigation

Jennifer Duggan

Most investigators are very familiar with their role conducting prompt, neutral, thorough and effective investigations. But months or sometimes even years after the investigation is concluded a subpoena is delivered asking for all records related to your investigation. There are many pitfalls that investigators can make in responding to inquiries regarding their investigations. I would like to do a presentation for the investigators on best practices for responding to subpoenas, retaining outside counsel to assist them with complying with subpoenas and defending them at depositions. Whose job is it to object to the subpoena? Who should file a motion to quash? What really is privileged if the investigator is an attorney? Whose job is it to protect the privilege? Who will defend you as the investigator at a deposition?

10:45 - 11:00 am


11:00 am - 12:15 pm

Keynote: Building Authentic Relationships

Mike Robbins

Coming soon.

12:15 - 1:30 pm

Lunch (Included with registration)

1:30 - 3:00 pm


1:30 - 3:00 pm

1A. Investigation Completed. Findings Conveyed. Then What?: Ending Workplace Suffering Caused by Abrasive Leaders

Laura Crawshaw, Ph.D., BCC

An employer calls for an investigation, and your findings confirm workplace bullying and/or harassment. Or the reverse occurs: the behaviors in question do not fit the legal criteria, leading to a negative finding. In either case, employers are left with the question of what to do — how to deal with destructive and disruptive employee distress caused by illegal (or legal) negative leadership behaviors. This presentation will empower you to make critical next step recommendations to help employers end organizational and individual workplace suffering caused by abrasive leaders.

1:30 - 2:15 pm

1B. Am I Serving Many Masters?

Pamela George

The role and existence of a public sector internal investigator is a constant balancing of environmental interests-external to the investigator's actual  raison d'être, which is to provide high-quality, unbiased responsive investigative services. Often the role of the investigator, concerning the type of cases he/she will investigate, the timing of the investigative process, etc. is influenced by policies and directives approved by external forces. The reality is the ever-present interrelationship between local government departments, governing bodies, the voting public, the public entity's Human Resources Department, the federal government, and politics affect the day to day work of a local government internal investigator. This seminar will explore and highlight simple, bite-sized take-along methods and mantras to ensure one important aspect of the character of a great investigator: Remaining true to your role as investigator.

2:15 - 3:00 pm

1C. Navigating the Unexpected — When Investigations Can Go Sideways, Upside Down, or South

Lisa Southern

Using examples for numerous investigations, Lisa will draw on her many years of experience in being an investigator to highlight some of the most unexpected moments and highlight options for. addressing the same. Using story-telling, humour and audience engagement, the session will be an engaging, interactive presentation that will give attendees more tools in their toolbox when unexpected events transpire during investigations.

3:00 - 3:15 pm


3:15 - 4:30 pm


2A. Retaliation-Proofing Your Investigation

Britt-Marie K. Cole-Johnson and Abby Warren

Before investigators begin their witness interviews, they typically review the issue of retaliation with witnesses along with other admonitions. But do witnesses always understand that prohibition? The answer is not always. What happens when a witness conducts her own side investigation? What about when a supervisor says to a witness before his interview I'd really appreciate it if you support me in this investigation? What about direct retaliation? If the conduct has happened before or during the investigation, how can the investigator preserve the integrity of the investigation? This presentation will focus on retaliation, the many forms it can take, and strategies for preserving the integrity of the investigation in such circumstances.

3:15 - 4:30 pm

2B. "Trauma-Informed" What is it and why does it matter?

Elizabeth Paris and Lauren Becker

Why did the Complainant wait to file a complaint? Why can't this party give me a cohesive timeline? This Respondent is not acting the way I think someone in their situation should act, does that mean they are lying? Learn how to tackle these questions using trauma-informed interview techniques. Trauma-informed interview techniques emphasize physical, psychological, and emotional safety for interviewees. In this dynamic and engaging presentation, attendees will learn how trauma-informed techniques can be used to deftly handle highly-charged interviews. Using role play, the trainers will demonstrate practical and effective ways to navigate even the most difficult interview, showing attendees how to conduct respectful and effective investigative interviews. Equally important, you will be coached to avoid common interview mistakes. Attendees will leave with suggested skills and techniques to successfully implement trauma-informed interview techniques, allowing them to both enhance their investigative interviews and improve workplace dynamics.

4:30- 4:45 pm


4:45 - 5:45 pm


3A. Confidentiality Issues and Considerations

Randi B. May


4:45 - 5:45 pm

3B. Tactical Considerations when Conducting Internal Affairs Investigations

Laura Drottz Kalty

Increased attention and accountability of law enforcement personnel across the country is leading to greater transparency in policing from a legal or policy standpoint. This increased transparency impacts the investigations of police personnel, bringing in an added layer of scrutiny that can trip up even the most experienced investigator. This session covers best practices and tactical considerations to learn from Public Safety Internal Affairs investigations, which are increasingly balancing intense media involvement, political ramifications, and high-profile witnesses, all while providing attendees with a different, but valuable, perspective for conducting investigations. Participants will come away with a better understanding of the nuances and practical realities of these complex and sensitive investigations and will gain a unique set of investigative skills and tactics that attendees can utilize in all investigations, irrespective of industry, but especially for public safety investigations.

6:00 - 7:30 pm

Networking Reception

Saturday, September 28

8:00 am - 12:00 pm


8:00 - 9:00 am

Continental Breakfast

8:45 - 9:00 am


9:00 - 10:00 am

AI and the Future of Investigation

Don Phin

Artificial Intelligence is getter better at detecting credibility. It is impacting everything from hiring decisions to testimony in the courtroom. Now AI is working its way into law enforcement and investigations. In this presentation, Don will give an overview of the current technologies and its implications for AWI members.

10:00 - 10:15 am


10:15 - 11:15 am

Back Off, Bully! Understand Workplace Bullying and How to Investigate It

Carole Ross; Catherine Mattice and Ashley Lattal

More and more, employees are complaining about bullying or improper treatment that is not tied to a protected characteristic or protected activity. Although this conduct does not violate the law in many jurisdictions, it is detrimental to employee morale and productivity. Learn the common components of bullying, how the situation often presents itself, and how to use this information when conducting workplace investigations.

11:15 - 11:30 am


11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Conducting Climate Reviews: Investigation Techniques for Group Conflict and Workplace Restoration

Milé Komlen

This workshop will examine the emerging demand for conducting Climate Reviews where a condition of dysfunction has been identified in a department or unit as a result of longstanding, unaddressed group conflict. Traditional investigations tend to envision an adversarial process between complainants and respondents, but in a complex group setting, creative approaches are required to investigate root causes of dysfunction and to encourage solutions aimed at restoring the workplace to a cohesive and respectful state. A Climate Review is a thorough examination of conflict issues that have been identified in a department or unit. It is usually initiated under the authority of an organization's Discrimination and Harassment policies, or Respectful Workplace and Civility framework, where a condition of dysfunction or group conflict has been identified but where no one is willing to come forward as an individual complainant. It is often initiated under the employer's general duty to act in addressing discrimination and harassment allegations. A Climate Review report is the result of a thorough investigation of issues identified by the participants of a dysfunctional unit and serves as a catalyst for the resolution of workplace issues through Group Conflict techniques and Workplace Restoration Initiatives. A Workplace Restoration Initiative is often implemented as part of the recommendations contained in a Climate Review report or following an investigation into complaints of discrimination or harassment. Workplace Restoration may involve various techniques that are designed to resolve group conflict and restore the work environment to a respectful and cohesive state. The Climate Review process allows investigators to propose broad-based solutions to what are usually intractable problems in the workplace by investigating the root causes of dysfunction in a department or unit. By using an organization's existing policy framework, the investigator conducts a thorough examination of conflict issues and is able to propose creative solutions as part of an ongoing program of workplace restoration.

12:30 pm

Conference Adjourns

12:30 - 1:00 pm

Meeting of Members

1:00 - 1:30 pm

Optional Committee Meetings: Details to be provided to committee members. If you are interested in joining one of the committees, please visit our Committee Page.

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