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The Importance of Rules of Evidence

A well-organized evidence report can protect you if an employee claims they were treated unfairly during a workplace investigation.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on February 11th, 2022

A good investigator needs a complete understanding of the rules of evidence and how to prepare a thorough evidence report. It is a crucial skill set and is paramount to the success or failure of an investigation.

The simple definition of the rules of evidence is that it is a methodology that provides information to prove or disprove a fact or a situation. In this context, it is important to distinguish between what is information and what is evidence.

 

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Information vs. Evidence

 

Information is just that – information. However, it can become evidence when it is used to make a decision or to support a theory.

No one type of evidence is better than any other type. So, in reality, the best evidence is whatever evidence maximizes the outcome of the investigation.

 

Why Do I Need a Workplace Evidence Report?

 

The purpose of the workplace evidence report is to provide a quick overview of the situation.

It can be used for many things, including deciding and implementing disciplinary action, in legal proceedings, and for any other event which calls for an accurate accounting of the events and how they were handled.

It is basically a guide to what happened, how it was investigated, and the outcome of the investigation itself.  It can be used to prove or disprove the facts and issues surrounding the investigation.

 

RELATED: How to Conduct a Workplace Investigation: Step by Step

 

What Should Go Into a Workplace Evidence Report?

 

Workplace evidence reports are similar to what attorneys prepare as court documents. They should contain all manner of evidence including:

  • An overview or summary of the complaint
  • The methodology used in the report
  • Informant information
  • A statement relating to the standard of proof of the issue and that the standard of proof was met
  • Copies of complaints
  • Proceeds of a search
  • Observations
  • Interviews
  • Documents, photographs, emails, computer records, forensic or any other key evidence
  • Medical reports
  • Statements
  • An analysis of the findings
  • Any recommendations for future conduct
  • Other items that may be deemed relevant to the investigation

 

 

Looking for evidence online? Watch our free webinar, “Search Engine Skills for Workplace Investigators” to get the most out of your web searches.

 

How to Write a Workplace Evidence Report

 

It is important that the report be organized and it should include page numbers and an index. It should be written in such a way that is easy to understand and makes sense to the reader, no matter whom that may be.

It should also be written objectively without any bias and should state whether the allegations were legitimate and if there is enough evidence to make a finding. Always keep in mind that this could be used as a legal document if the case should go to court.

Evidence and how it is treated and documented can negatively affect an investigation which can come at great expense to an employer if an employee is not treated fairly. A well-crafted and documented evidence report can help protect the employer.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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