NTEU learned today of a broad time and attendance investigation by the Inspector General's Office. We have confirmed that they are investigating employees in the Office of Transportation and Air Quality, but it appears from the scope of their employee questioning that they may be investigating beyond OTAQ.
Given this broad investigation, it's essential to keep in mind several important items:
- Just because you think you haven't done anything wrong, does not mean you shouldn't be concerned. We've witnessed many an innocent person who didn't answer questions quite as the IG liked it who was later disciplined for otherwise innocent answers.
- The IG is allowed to lie to you. Yes, they can. They can tell you that "you are not being investigated" even when you are being investigated. They frequently use this tactic to trick you into providing information that might be damaging. You might not even be aware that the information is damaging.
- The IG will frequently ask you questions about other people first, not you, even though they really are investigating you. They do this as a tactic to have you let your guard down. Then, when they get you relaxed, they start asking questions about you. It's a common investigative technique that makes it more likely that you'll trip yourself up.
You may not have done anything wrong, but when they come asking questions, you need a union representative. Decline to answer any questions until a union representative is provided. Your rights are:
- If you believe the investigation might lead to disciplinary action (and if the IG is asking questions, it's reasonable to assume it might), then you are entitled to first consult with a union representative before the interview continues;
- If you really did do something that might be a crime, then you have an absolute right to decline their questions under the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution;
- You have the right to know "the general subject of the interview" in advance of the interview occurring;
- You have a right to know whether or not the interview is criminal in nature;
- If it's not criminal in nature, you have a right to request a "Kalkines" warning that prevents them from using any information gleaned during the interview against you criminally; and
- You have the right to have a union representative present during investigatory interviews.
Like Sully Sullenberger, the pilot and noted airline safety expert who crash-landed is plane in the Hudson River and saved about 100 lives, even stellar performers need a union. His union was by his side the entire time.
When the IG knocks on your door, calls your number, or emails, you need a union representative.