New and Being Investigated

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about an investigation about trainees drinking :

Hello! And thanks in advance! I just started my job roughly a month ago. I went to training for about a month in Dallas. At this training, the company provided “company rooms” like a hotel on company grounds. Everyone in the class was over 21, minus one girl who will be 21 in like 2 months. Well an HR investigation has started and it seems they are trying to pin it on me, underage drinking. Roughly 7-8 of us were in another guy’s apartment room, on company grounds after training around 8 pm. We ended up buying drinks around that time as well.

This is where I come into play. I got 10 dollars from the girl right before we left at dinner. She made a comment like “Oh here buy me a six-pack”. I laughed and said “sure thing!” This money was to pay me back from a few days earlier but no one knew of this. So someone saw her drinking and someone mentioned she handed me money. Put 2 and 2 together I am buying her beer.Now what scares me is that 2 of the guys drank EVERY night and may have given her beer during the month stay. So I fear they may try and throw me under the bus. The girl was not with us when we went to the store; she was not waiting when we got back, and she didn’t show up to the room for almost an hour after we got back. I never “gave her” any beer but she may have taken one without me noticing.

My question is how does this work now? Do they need 100% proof to make a “case against me” or does he said-she said hold up in investigations? I am scared since I am so new I will be thrown under the bus. I also got pulled out of training the last day and my instructor informed me that I was going to have week 4 of my training notated that I was trying to “interfere with an investigation” because I was asking people what was going on and talking about it. Everyone in the class was too but I feel I was picked out for no reason. The only thing that sticks out to me is that the girl gave me money. But to me that am not proof; that’s like giving a friend a dollar back and saying “this is for that pound of meth”. I have not received any information about the HR investigation yet and waiting to hear from them. Any advice or input would be great! This is a great job and if I lose I will be screwed. Thanks again for your time and look forward to the response!

Signed, New and Worried

Dear New and Worried:

Your lengthy story indicates you are anxious about the investigation. We don’t provide legal advice and I doubt that you need that. However, the short reply to your question is: “Hang in there and be up-front, honest and cooperative with those investigating.” I sense that you have a tendency to talk and talk. This is not a time to gossip and conduct the investigation yourself; just cooperate. Don’t be defensive. Apologize for not being more careful about behavior that could be interpreted badly. Focus your comments on your commitment to the organization. Don’t talk and talk. Running on and on will strike an investigator as unprofessional.

And learn from this unhappy experience however it turns out. Hopefully, you will learn that partying can start a job off on the wrong foot. Hopefully, the investigation will not end by firing you. Hopefully, you now will be allowed to learn the ropes and culture of your work organization. Hopefully, you have the skills and attitude that add value to your new job. They hired you because you were judged worthy of being training. So you must have some things going for you. Now don’t mess up further by acting like you are either worried sick and fear you will be fired. On the other hand, don’t act as thought you simply don’t care. If you have scanned our site, you will have seen many questions from anxious individuals regarding their boss-bossed relationship. Some of them were especially worried about their first months on the job. I think you will survive this rough start and learn that you were hired to do a job and that means not trying to be one of the guys. You might find some of our Q&As of interest, such as Working Jerk Updated that appears in our more recently list of questions. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, my signature sentence is worthy of thinking how it applies to you.

William Gorden