I'm looking for some guidance, hopefully from a HR professional but any advice is appreciated; for context, this is in the UK so will be subject to our laws/guidelines.
I, along with many colleagues in my department, were recently 'interviewed' individually by a member of senior management. We were each told this was an informal discussion, and that all answers would be anonymous and confidential.
The purpose of the interviews was stated as to perform a 'baseline' of the mood of the organisation, and whether there were any concerns about attitudes.
It has recently been revealed that in reality, a member of the department had received a grievance notification against them and the true purpose of the interviews was to see if anyone would voluntarily substantiate the claims made therein. The testimonies were in fact used to bring a formal charge against the accused colleague (confirmed to me by the senior manager).
I take issue with this approach, as;
- Participants were not informed their testimonies would be used in a formal capacity
- Participants were actively misled as to the nature of the discussion
- The questions asked were (in my experience) leading questions by nature, with long periods of silence held when no immediate answers were forthcoming
- No opportunity was extended to bring in a representative or 3rd party support/witness.
It has emerged that the senior manager's actions were sanctioned by HR; whats more, the head of our companies HR Department, meaning that should anyone take issue they would be seeking redress against the head of HR for their actions.
Is it possible that the investigation was performed in an unbefitting, or possibly legally dubious manner? While I am not the aggrieved party, I feel as though my testimony was gathered without my consent. Does 'anonymising' the feedback received go any way towards upholding confidentiality, or is the lack of disclosure (and statement of informality) mean confidentiality is not assured by certainty?