This is a general overview of the formal investigation process at Brock University as conducted by the Investigations Manager. These processes may be altered as required. External investigators may also follow different practices as part of their individual investigative process.
The investigations process at the University may unfold differently depending on which policy and procedure the alleged conduct falls under: the Respectful Work and Learning Environment Policy or the Sexual Assault and Harassment Policy. However, regardless of which policy the conduct is being investigated under, the investigation process will always include four stages: (1) Notice to the Parties; (2) Interviews; (3) Investigation Report: (4) Conclusion.
Notice to the Parties
After having been appointed as investigator on a file, the investigator will issue separate Notice of Investigation letters to the Complainant and Respondent. Each party will be invited to attend a separate optional virtual meeting with the investigator to discuss the investigation process generally and to answer any questions they may have. This optional meeting is not the actual interview where the investigator will pose questions and take notes. Prior to formally meeting with the Respondent, the investigator will provide an additional Notice of Interview to the Respondent containing a Statement of Allegations outlining each allegation against them and providing them with sufficient details to enable them to respond to the allegations.
After the notices are distributed, the investigator will hold separate formal interviews with the Complainant and Respondent. All efforts will be made to interview the Complainant first. Typically, these interviews will be held virtually. During the interview the investigator will ask questions and take notes. External investigators may have different methods for documenting interview statements, such as recording their interviews. Notwithstanding the investigator’s preferred method, the notes or recording from one party’s interview will not be shared with the other party.
The parties will have the opportunity to provide the names of any relevant witnesses they think the investigator should interview. The parties will also have the opportunity to provide any relevant documentation they think the investigator should consider. It is possible that the investigator will hold a follow-up meeting with the Complainant and Respondent in order to put additional or contrary evidence to them.
Once the interviews with the Complainant and Respondent and any relevant witnesses are completed, the investigator will generate an investigation report. The investigation report will set out the allegations, the evidence provided by the parties, as well as witness and documentary evidence. The investigation report will contain a credibility assessment of the parties, make findings of fact on the balance of probabilities (i.e. will make a finding whether it is more likely than not that a particular incident occurred) and make a finding whether any University policies have been breached.
Conclusion of investigation process
Upon completion of the investigation report, the investigator will provide the report to HRE for distribution to the parties. At this point, the investigator’s involvement in the complaint process is effectively concluded. The relevant decision maker will receive the report and decide how to proceed, in accordance with the relevant policy and any applicable collective agreement.