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Part 7: Open Communication and Impartiality in Investigations

This is quite helpful Theresa. I think the biggest issue here, is, wait for it, …communication! Part of me still struggles with wondering if it is possible to investigate a complaint by a party, gather information through an investigation through all parties, and end up by determining that the complaining party is more the problem than anyone else. 

Part 6: What Reports or Observations Trigger an Investigation

investigationsIn our hypothetical, Tom and Sally reached out and made allegations to the mission leader. It seems fairly obvious this should have triggered an investigation. But we probably want to spend more time thinking about how investigations get started. When should you investigate? A number of situations may call for an investigation. 

Part 5: It Really is About Confidentiality and Trust in the Investigation

trust and confidenceIn your hypothetical, there is already a lack of mutual trust. Tom and Sally are seen as being perpetual complainers. And your mission leader isn’t consistent. He “usually” investigates and doesn’t have a methodical approach. So what do complainants have the right to know about the progress of an investigation and what is the effect of trust issues with leadership? 

You Gave the Church Away?

You hate to see a case with a caption like God’s Hope Builders, Inc. v. Mount Zion Baptist Church, since it seems unlikely the lawsuit is what God would have hoped for. The Georgia Court of Appeals, on March 28, 2013, remanded this case with orders to the trial court to figure out, if it legitimately could, who the church members actually were.

Part 4: Complaints, Protection, Confidentiality and Trust

trusting leadersI can see where if you deal with complaints in a regular process, and document them, it makes for good protection. Two comments, though, one about confidentiality, and one about trust. In a perfect world, people see leadership as benevolent, compassionate, trustworthy (don’t laugh! I am going somewhere with this!). However, the reality is that we each project our own ... 

Part 3: Some Points About Your Policies - Protecting and Reporting

whistle blower policiesLet’s talk about policies—the types of policies you should have and how people can report without either personnel or the company running into problems with retaliation. Your conduct and discipline policies should also prohibit retaliation, and a separate whistle-blower policy is a good idea. An important piece in avoiding sticky situations is to have a complaint or grievance procedure. 

Part 2: How Whistle-blowing is Protected and Why You Want it Anyway

Hi Brent, Back in law school, sometimes the prof would weave the entire semester’s legal principles into one diabolical hypothetical, and the single exam question would be your entire grade for the course. The general answer is that Mission Leader in your hypothetical is in big trouble, and the mission is probably now facing a lawsuit. 

Part 1: Opening a Can of Worms - Investigations, Whistle-Blowing and Retaliation

Retaliation or whistle-blower lawsuits are the hottest thing in employment litigation, and missions should be aware of this. Good policies are important.  Missions should encourage internal reporting of the violation of these policies, and have a well-defined investigation process. Leaders should also know how to avoid issues with retaliation, including how to deal with troublemakers. Read More→

What is RLUIPA Substantial Burden on a Church, Anyway?

The Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) makes the government meet a very tough standard for a land use regulation that imposes a substantial burden on religious exercise, including for churches. Obviously an important initial question is whether the regulation does impose a substantial burden. A Fourth Circuit case issued January 31, 2013, Bethel World Outreach Ministries v. Montgomery County Council, develops the “substantial burden” standard in a way that may help other churches facing zoning issues.

Goals of Therapy Versus Goals of Investigation

Therapeutic processes and legal processes are different. Certain things are appropriate in the therapeutic process that are not acceptable in a legal process. Absolute factual accuracy is not the primary goal of therapy. In the world of an investigation, with livelihood and organizational survival on the line, impartial factual accuracy is very important.  

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