Employers sometimes assert that the only function of a steward at an investigatory interview is to observe the discussion; in other words, to be a silent witness. This is incorrect. The steward must be allowed to advise and assist the employee in presenting the facts. When the steward arrives at the meeting:
- The supervisor or manager must inform the steward of the subject matter of the interview: in other words, the type of misconduct being investigated.
- The steward must be allowed to have a private meeting with the employee before questioning begins.
- The steward can speak during the interview, but cannot insist that the interview be ended.
- The steward can object to a confusing question and can request that the question be clarified so that the employee understands what is being asked.
- The steward can advise the employee not to answer questions that are abusive, misleading, badgering, or harassing.
- When the questioning ends, the steward can provide information to justify the employee’s conduct.