Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Witness Corroboration: My Story

I filed a case with the Office of Human Rights in August 2004 and my case is just getting to a point where a determination will be reached shortly. That makes nearly 5years of delays and "investigation" by the state county agency that has jurisdiction over workplace racism cases in the area where I was employed.

I have already heard that not a single witness in my case has confirmed ONE BIT of evidence that I presented. Everyone pretended not to know anything about my case or they said they couldn't remember anything. I am not surprised.

I've written many posts about how you must document a list of witnesses who can confirm your versions of events and then it is up to them to decide whether or not to tell the truth.

My case has gone on for such a great length of time and I have not been in contact with most of these witnesses, as to not be accused of trying to influence what they may or may not say to an investigator. I've always written and still believe that you can't stress yourselt out about things you can't control--such as the testimony and interviews that others will provide.

I'm not surprised that people said they "forgot" everything. Why would anyone feel compelled to provide truthful testimony? The reality is, they don't owe me anything. They have to decide what they can and will live with. Some may have thought they didn't want to burn any bridges with a former employer, who they may need for an employment reference in the future. They may have decided this was a place they may want or need to work at again the future. Some may have decided it wasn't worth the headache to them. Others may have feared the "it's a small world" mentality and thought they might face retaliation, even if though they didn't work at that job anymore.

Most of my witnesses went to work for competitors and we worked in a really targeted field, where many people know each other. I can understand someone fearing word getting out that they participated in an investigation against a former employer.

You hope people will do the right thing. But, it's just not up to you. Strangely, I don't even feel any animosity towards anyone on my witness list. In a way, they lived up to my expectations, which was that they would pretend to have no relevant information--that they would claim they NEVER knew anything!

Still, I hoped that I would be disappointed. But, it wasn't to be.

When my former coworker had a case against the same employer, I was the only person to provide truthful testimony FROM THE START. Everyone else pretended to not know anything about her case or they signed false statements from our employer or they helped participate in a campaign to retaliate against her through isolation, marginalization, etc. Later, some had to recant their testimony, but it was only after they got caught in lies and were confronted by the investigator. Then, they admitted to lying. But, I told the truth from jump! It brought about my own retaliation and led to me being forced to resign and relocate out-of-state, but I still wouldn't do anything differently today. I can look in the mirror with pride. And, I know that me telling the truth made a difference for her in a fight to vindicate her employment and civil rights.

Even though she had a favorable outcome in her complaint, she often talked about being really disappointed in our coworkers, who lied and denied. And, I shared those feelings.

But, that doesn't mean you should feel the same way. Try to have faith that some or ONE of your witnesses will have the courage to speak truth to power. It's still worth it to keep a list of witnesses and to jot down the information they can provide to an investigator or lawyer, should they be willing to cooperate.

Witness corroboration, by someone, is a major piece of evidence. Without it, you can only stand on written documentation, which can be twisted and manipulated and you will end up with a he said/she said type of case. Having someone, other than you, confirm a story is a major blow to an employer.

So, always maintain a witness log. And, then realize that whatever will be...will be! It's out of your control. Don't let other people's weaknesses destroy you or shake your faith!

I won't.

I still believe in karma!


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