A couple of months ago, I was contacted by a large corporation’s attorneys about possibly appearing in civil court and representing them as an expert witness.
After multiple conference calls where I was grilled regarding my qualifications and track-record of not falling into the usual category of “expert witness for hire”—I have very strict standards as to the types of cases I will accept— the legal firm indicated that they had interest in having me appear on their behalf.
However, before I will agree to any such offers, I require that all legal firms send me various critical documents related to the lawsuit.
The particulars of this case pertained to the terminations of two employees and primarily evolved around “written admissions of dishonesty” taken by the store’s Loss Prevention staff. The two plaintiffs were challenging both the alleged acts of dishonesty and admissions of guilt.
Well, after reviewing LP’s reports, termination documents, and examining the “confessions”, I called the lead attorney and advised him that I had no interest in appearing in a court-of-law on their behalf.
In a nutshell, the Loss Prevention investigators’ reports were poorly prepared, and unclear in describing that an act of dishonesty had taken place. To make matters worse, the two alleged admission statements lacked admissions of theft or policy violations; one plaintiff stating that her leaving the store with an unpaid item was an oversight, and offered an apology for forgetting to purchase the item as she was in a hurry to leave. No admission of wrongdoing. The second employee’s written “admission” was mostly written by the LP person, and here again, was not clear as to an admission of theft or store policy violation.
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To me, those LP investigators, if previously trained, definitely were not instructed regarding collection of evidence and how to properly obtain a written admission of guilt that would withstand the judiciary’s challenges.
Reduce your vulnerability to wrongful termination lawsuits:
. Ensure that the H.R. staff has a clear understanding as to what essentials are required in these types of cases prior to actual terminations.
. When LP-related issues are involved, it is good practice for the terminating manager to have both the LP person and employee present, violation and admission clearly discussed, and ensure that the employee signifies that their admission was made without any promises or threats. In addition, the admission statement should always be properly witnessed. $