Unless you’re a wine nerd, you likely haven’t heard about the cheating scandal that has rocked the Court of Master Sommeliers, the nonprofit governing body that administers the group’s exams.
For the uninitiated, the Master Sommelier diploma is the highest distinction a fine wine and beverage service professional can attain. To obtain the diploma, one must pass a three-part exam that includes an oral theory examination, a deductive blind tasting of six wines, and a practical wine service examination. The exam is so hard that there are only 262 professionals worldwide who have ever passed.
Let’s translate this story into the world of employment law. Suppose an employee claims her supervisor sexually harassed her by sending her explicit text messages. The accused supervisor says, “It wasn’t me; someone must have spoofed my phone number. Here’s my iPhone and the passcode. Do whatever you have to do to confirm that it wasn’t me.” Instead, however, all you do before firing the supervisor is review the texts from the victim’s device; you never do anything with the supervisor’s device to confirm or disprove his claim that someone spoofed his phone number.
That employer has a huge problem when the supervisor sues. An employer can rely on reasonable investigation to justify whatever corrective action it takes as a result.