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Just a Thought - Investigation seems unfair
Lisa Hobbs, new mugshot.jpg

Main Street McMinnville’s meeting on Tuesday sounded more like a witch hunt and not a fair investigation into allegations of bullying. 

A witch hunt is a search for evidence of witchcraft against people who have been labeled as witches. Those quests dismiss or ignore any indication that the individual might be innocent.

Main Street McMinnville board members Rachel Killebrew and Amy-Jo Stanford were accused of bullying by former executive director Teresa Prober when she resigned in October after nine months. A Governance Committee was set up to look into those allegations and presented its findings on Tuesday. 

An investigation is a systematic collection of facts for the purposes of describing what occurred and explaining why it occurred. A fair investigation must be unbiased with both parties being treated in a similar manner and both parties being interviewed.

According to hracuity.com, there are six best practices for conducting fair human resource investigations: Follow a standard HR investigation timeline, explain to the person why they are being interviewed, adhere to your company’s HR investigation protocol, don’t delay the investigation process, ask the right HR investigation questions, and document the findings from your investigation. 

Part of practice No. 1 states, “To thoroughly and accurately ascertain the facts of any employee misconduct allegation, human resources or the professional assigned to do the investigation interview will need to interview both the employee making the accusation and the employee accused of misconduct.”

Part of practice No. 2 states, “It is important that the subject of an investigation is provided an opportunity to give his or her side of the story. Doing so will require that complete details regarding the allegation are provided.”

Part of practice No. 5 states, “It is not uncommon for employees to perceive HR professionals as working to a certain outcome that is favorable to the company, and this belief can skew their views of the legitimacy of the workplace investigation process – and the trustworthiness of their HR overall."

What Governance Committee members did was not impartial, not professional and not conducted in a way to remove doubts about the findings. I’m amazed that only one member of that committee resigned in the middle of the investigation. I wouldn’t want my name attached to it. I would have resigned, too.

My advice to Main Street McMinnville would be to disband the Governance Committee with a “thank you, but no thank you” on the one-sided examination into Prober’s allegations. Bullying claims can be damaging to one’s reputation, even if unfounded. 

Add to it the poor job this committee did and I don’t blame Killebrew and Stanford for seeking legal advice. This was a modern day witch hunt that shouldn’t go without consequences. 

Standard reporter Lisa Hobbs can be reached at 473-2191.