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If your employer suspects that you have engaged in misconduct, you may be required to participate in a workplace investigation. While you may feel that the allegations against you are unfair, it is important that you take part in this process (provided that you are medically fit to do so) so as to outline your version of events. A failure to follow a lawful and reasonable direction from your employer, such as a direction to attend a disciplinary meeting, can itself be grounds for further disciplinary action.
Fortunately, there are laws in place requiring employers to abide by basic standards of procedural fairness in carrying out an investigation. Specifically, your employer should:
- notify you of the allegations against you, including providing you with particulars of the allegations;
- give you an opportunity to respond to those allegations; and
- not unreasonably refuse to allow you to bring a support person to any meetings regarding the allegations.
If your employer fails to follow these steps and ultimately terminates your employment, you may have grounds to pursue an unfair dismissal claim (link to section on unfair dismissal above).
It is important to note that the role of a support person at a disciplinary meeting is to provide practical and emotional support, not to act as an advocate. As such, this person usually cannot be a lawyer acting in a legal capacity. However, there are a number of other ways in which we can assist. For example, our employment lawyers can:
- provide you with advice about your situation;
- assist you to respond to the allegations in writing; and
- assist you to respond to any letter that asks you to “show cause” in writing why your employment should not be terminated.