Unconscious Bias In Workplace Investigations

Posted: Apr 4, 2019

By: Washington State Employment Law Lawyer Elizabeth L. Van Moppes

Elizabeth (Beth) L. Van Moppes recently wrote an article for the April 2019 Washington State Bar Bulletin on the impact that unconscious bias can have on a workplace investigator’s determinations and how to best fight those innate human biases. She states that implicit prejudice can have the greatest influence in an investigator’s decisions about credibility. However, it also plays out in less obvious ways that the more readily identifiable immutable characteristics of traditionally disadvantaged groups like color, race, age, gender, ethnicity, and religion. Among the effects and influences that investigators can have upon their investigators, studies have also shown that an investigator can be unknowingly biased when witnesses have differing social stature or rank, and when one witness has the “halo” effect of being more attractive than another. Van Moppes writes that, as investigations and investigators become increasingly important parts of the equity and social justice we want and need for our workplaces, we can expect to see the issues of unconscious bias raised more frequently in employment litigation. This makes the investigator’s self-knowledge, and ability to understand and counteract these influences and biases, ever more vital to the process. The entire article can be found here for KCBA members: https://www.kcba.org/For-Lawyers/Bar-Bulletin/PostId/761/how-unconscious-bias-can-influence-a-workplace-investigators-determinations If you are not a member and interested in reading the entire article, please email Beth directly or her assistant, Jasmine Brown. We will be happy to provide you with a copy.

Whether you are an employer in need of advice managing a workplace situation or a business in need of an outside investigator, Beth or another attorney in Beresford Booth’s employment law department would be happy to help. Please contact us at (425) 776-4100.

Beresford Booth PLLC (425.776.4100), www.beresfordlaw.com.

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