Author Archive

Christmas Blues – Workplace Violence

December 19th, 2016 Comments off

For many, the Christmas season is not filled with happiness. Remembering lost loved ones, and feelings of depression and loneliness can lead to behaviours that may be a cause for concern.

There is an increase in workplace violence during the months of December and January. Employers need to watch for signs that individuals may not be coping well.

Many firms also find themselves making year-end decisions related to employment levels. Downsizing is never a pleasant experience. During the Christmas season, it is important to pay particular attention if you are considering staff reductions. Individuals, who are already stressed, can feel a job loss is just one more thing they cannot handle.

You also need to take into consideration employees who no longer work for your company. Often the Christmas season will trigger individuals to act out. Many feel their job loss has resulted in their inability to provide gifts for loved ones. We have assisted numerous firms over the years where a terminated employee has acted out during the Christmas season, often targeting managers, supervisors, and co-workers.

Regardless of the season, you should pay attention to key dates that may be trigger points such as birthdays, date of hire or termination, and family members’ birthdays.

The office Christmas party can also be cause for concern. Bill 168 obligations are not just within your four office walls. Employers have a responsibility to ensure company events are treated in the same manner as in day-to-day operations. This recent article from HRM Canada may be of interest.

If you would like a complimentary copy of our Workplace Violence Guide, Click Here.

Online Bullying and Harassment

November 28th, 2016 Comments off

Today more than ever, online bullying and harassment continue to occur on social media. We have all heard of examples involving children being bullied. In some cases, these situations have been very high profile, receiving national media attention. Unfortunately, they do not just involve kids. Online bullying and harassment have become problematic for employers.  Most often online harassment is peer to peer. Customers and the public can also target your employees.

Recently an arbitrator ruled that the Toronto Transit Commission must investigate and do more to protect their employees from online threats. Police officers involved in the Standing Rock pipeline protest have become targets of online threats. It has been reported that their family members have also been targeted.

Investigating online threats can be challenging and time-consuming. LexisNexis recently reported that 75% of individuals polled indicated they had no formal training on how to conduct an online investigation. Most were self-taught.

The increase in online harassment and bullying is likely to continue. With that being said, you will need to develop a plan to investigate. Important considerations are as follows:

  • Who is making the threats?
  • What is their motivation and why?
  • What is the nature of the threat?
  • How often and aggressive are the threats?
  • What steps will I need to put in place to protect the individual being targeted?
  • What local laws exist to protect against online threats?

To complete an assessment, you will need to gather social media posts and complete a review. The collection of information can be the most challenging and time-consuming part of the process.

Today many techniques and tools exist that a qualified open source investigator can unearth. To learn more, please feel free to contact me

83% of 1.8 Billion Facebook Users Post Something Daily

November 21st, 2016 Comments off

As social media continues to grow, it is important to understand what is driving the increase and why conducting social media investigations is an important tool for your company.

Demographics of Social Media Users

72% of American adult Internet users/62% of the entire adult population use Facebook

  • 82% of online adults aged 18-29 use Facebook
  • 79% of online adults aged 30-49 use Facebook
  • 64% of online adults aged 50-64 use Facebook
  • 48% of online adults aged 65 and older use Facebook

Facebook currently has the largest amount of users amongst social media platforms, followed by Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

Frequency of Social Media Use

70% of Facebook users log in daily – 43% several times daily

Platform Daily % Weekly % Remaining %
Facebook 70 21 9
Instagram 59 17 23
Twitter 38 21 40
Pinterest 27 28 44
LinkedIn 22 30 46

As the number of social media platforms, apps and users continue to grow – social media investigations will be vital in solving many challenges.

If you would like to receive a sample of an investigative report, please email me at



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Never Judge a Book by Its Cover – Workplace Violence

October 24th, 2016 Comments off

Workplace violence events can occur anywhere, and they typically happen at the worst possible time, when you are least expecting it. The key is to put processes in place so bad behaviour can be detected before something happens. Past behaviour is an indicator of future actions. We see this repeatedly when engaged by clients. A person rarely acts out inappropriately just one time, and if it is not corrected, it will escalate. Events can often trigger acts of violence, and they can stem from inside or outside the workplace. You need to be aware of these triggers. It could be a sick child at home, the death of a loved one or being overlooked for a promotion. These trigger events along with the smallest incident at work can set off the perfect storm.

We recently had a client contact us to support them with an incident. It was a major insurance company with an individual in sales who was not performing as he usually does. On the surface, the employee appeared normal. During a meeting to discuss his performance, the employee became verbally aggressive, and it was decided to end his employment. The employee left and went home, and his personal belongs were gathered and shipped to his residence. Most cases stop at this point, but this was only the beginning.

The individual threatened two senior executives, one based in Toronto and the second in Calgary. The threats were serious in nature, and the police had to be notified. The employee lived in the Toronto area, which meant the threat to the Toronto executive was taken more seriously. It happened on a Friday at approximately 5 p.m., but the police indicated they would not be able to start the case until the following week.

The company’s human resources department contacted our corporate security team for support. They first conducted a social media and open source investigation. We needed to gather information and determine what type of person the client was dealing with. We quickly concluded that the individual had a dark side. His social media profile provided a treasure trove of data relating to drug use as well as threatening and aggressive posts. Armed with this information, we recommended that the individual should be under surveillance to examine his movements and provide an early warning to the executive and his family as well as the workplace. Also, security officers were placed at the executive’s home.

Throughout the weekend, the employee continued to post threats on social media. The threats were not specifically directed at the executives or the company, but it was clear that the employee was not dealing with the situation rationally. Our surveillance team followed the employee to some bars and feared he would act out after consuming alcohol. The executive and his family went out of town to further minimize the risk. All social media information was harvested and stored as evidence. The client passed this information onto the police, and the ex-employee was charged.

The employer will need to continue to monitor this individual’s social media as well as ensure the security of their employees, workplace, and the executive involved. Although the situation has calmed down, the former employee could be triggered by something and act out aggressively in the future. We typically ask clients to be extra vigilant surrounding key dates such as date of birth, date of hire, date of termination, etc. They often can be triggered to act out in and around important dates.

Lesson learned! The company had policies for dealing with discipline meetings and terminations, but they were not followed. In addition, having a social media investigation done prior can be very helpful. The client could have known that their employee was using drugs and had an anger management issue.

A company’s ability to be proactive and prepared is vital when your employees’ safety is at risk. If you would like a copy of our ‘Workplace Violence Planning Guide’, click here.


Protest Gone to the Dogs

September 27th, 2016 Comments off

In recent weeks, a video has emerged from the pipeline protests in the US where the Dakota Access Pipeline company attacked protesters with dogs as seen in this video.

Providing security support for any protest can be extremely challenging. Emotions often boil over, and actions can quickly escalate when a trigger event occurs. In order to ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all involved, a measured approach to security is required. Dogs are never a wise choice when dealing with protests. Many years ago, during a building trades strike in Canada, dogs were used to protect the property from protesters. The result was a PR disaster. The dogs became the protesters’ targets and were attacked and killed.

This unfortunate incident brought national attention for all the wrong reasons.

A security guard’s job is to observe, report, and deter those considering action, not to cause more problems. Video of guards fighting protesters is bad for business. Damage to your brand will be irreversible if such an incident occurs. In many cases, poorly trained guards can quickly escalate situations. Simple words can be the fuel needed to ignite a protest. Non-Violent Crisis Intervention training is vital.

When incidents make front-page news, it is not good for business. The key when dealing with any form of protest is to have a plan. Understanding the dynamics at play and how to manage them is crucial to your success. A balanced approach ensures people and properties are protected.



The Changing Face of Labour Disputes

August 5th, 2016 Comments off

Recently we supported a client with a complicated set of issues at the bargaining table. As is the case with most expiring collective agreements, I was called upon to work with management in developing a contingency plan in the event of a strike. A threat risk assessment of all sites with recommendations, costs, and timelines was provided to manage picket lines.

Part of our overall plan was to look at corporate events leading up to the strike deadline, as well as a review of the risks to executives, families and board members. We have started to see a trend where unions have become more creative with campaigns during bargaining. The goal of the union is to create awareness and apply pressure on the management team. In this particular case, the union began to target corporate events. Sending protesters to leaflet locations where management was planning to attend. In addition to the typical social media campaign, the union also began to post the names and addresses of key firms on Twitter.

Social media monitoring is not only a valuable tool in protecting your brand; it can also identify risks and gather intelligence. With the information from Twitter, we were able to mobilize teams to the individuals impacted. The lesson learned is the union has a new powerful tool that they can use to communicate and mobilize protesters quickly.

The ability to gather social media information may also form part of your argument for a court injunction. Harvesting and storing the information in a format that can be easily accessed and used at a later date should be reviewed. Millennials entering the workforce are less likely to march and stand around burning barrels with picket signs. The new form of protest will most likely play out on the web.

Ensuring you have risk mitigation strategies in place to deal with picket lines as well as how the union will use social media to mobilize its members will be important. For those environments where unionized members are part of your I.T. department, you should consider hardening security and potentially engaging third party support to monitor and conduct penetration testing. We have been called upon by a number of municipalities that have faced I.T. related concerns with unionized I.T. personnel being able to access a host of sensitive information.

The face of labour disputes is ever evolving.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? Travel Security

July 7th, 2016 Comments off

With attacks occurring almost daily around the world we face unprecedented risk. The need for travel security, as well as emergency response has never been greater. Cafes, airports, and public meeting places have all been targeted. Most of the attacks have focused on areas where Westerners travel. These attacks no longer happen in countries deemed as high risk. The key is having a plan and understanding your risk.

Threat risk assessments are necessary. Reviewing the region, routes within cities, hotels as well as meeting areas is a good starting point. You need to have a strategy if things do not go as planned. Security awareness training and being mindful of your surroundings is vital for your employees.

Travel tracking tools will identify where your employees are and enable you to make contact with them quickly. Most travel trackers such as E-Travel provide country risk ratings as well as alerts. It can support travellers pre-trip as well as during. Alerts can be delivered via SMS or email.

If you do not have an emergency or global security operations centre, you will need to provide a contact number that employees can call to receive guidance and instructions. Many travel risk management companies provide emergency response numbers. Guidance can include whether to shelter in place or consider evacuating.

Technology is becoming part of many travel security plans. GPS tracking and SOS panic features are now included in phone APPS such as MyTrac. Travellers can now push a panic button to engage security response. This can be as simply as general guidance or in severe situations initiate an extraction. Once the panic feature has been engaged, two-way communication can commence immediately.

You should also have a travel risk management vendor in place to deal with security and medical emergencies. If you have insurance be sure to review your hard loss triggers, as sometimes they are not easily met. Services such as CAP (Crisis Assistance Plus) offer a membership that is fully indemnified. The cost of response is eliminated which can save your organization a considerable amount of money.

Having a well-resourced travel security program will also ensure you have met your Duty of Care obligations.

Failing to plan is planning to fail. The cost of being unprepared is immense.


Ostrich Investigative Technique

May 24th, 2016 Comments off

Bill 132 will force Ontario employers to take sexual harassment and issues related to workplace violence more serious. You can no longer ignore and hope it goes away.

Legislation has been in place for some time relating to workplace bullying and violence as well as sexual harassment. This is not new. Bill 132 will add more teeth.

However failing to conduct a thorough investigation will no longer be acceptable.

We recently assisted in a case involving a female employee who complained she was being sexually harassed. Human Resources completed an investigation and found no proof. The female employee, in turn, wrote a letter to the CEO and Board Members expressing her frustration.

We conducted an investigation, and the two male suspects had no idea what this complaint was about and proclaimed their innocents. The human resources manager did not possess the skills and experience to get to the bottom of things.

Upon receiving the details, we elected to conduct an open source investigation on the two male suspects and uncovered numerous online posts mentioning and targeting the female employee. We also identified others who had knowledge of the situation.

We interviewed others, and they were very informative and confirmed the situation as well as other inappropriate acts carried out by the individuals in question.

Armed with this new information, we then interviewed the male suspects for the second time. Both men initially continued to be dishonest with their responses. After a period, the two males had indicated they did indeed target this female because she had broken off a relationship with one of the males.

The main suspect had a checkered employment history. He elected to resign his position. The second man faced discipline and was restricted from the area where the female worked. The outcome provided closure and was resolved in a manner acceptable to the female employee.

You need to review how you currently conduct investigations, as well as what tools and third party resources can assist you when things go bad.

If you would like a complimentary copy of our workplace violence guide, please contact me at


Your Magic Crystal Ball

April 13th, 2016 Comments off

A new tool in the fight against disability and workers’ compensation fraud is open source investigations. The use of this technology is becoming more widely recognized and accepted.

Individuals continue to post more and more about their lives on a host of social media platforms. Instagram is overtaking Facebook as one of the most popular places to post photos and videos. Twitter also continues to be a favourite tool.

Posting all aspects of our daily lives makes us feel part of a global community. What does this mean for disability claim managers and those in the human resources profession? They have an unprecedented look into an individual’s public life.

How many times have you seen a doctor’s note that states that the individual is totally disabled, or unfit for modified duties, sitting or standing for longer periods, etc.? In the past, you would have to conduct a costly surveillance to determine the individual’s level of activity. Today, you may be a few clicks away from validating your concerns.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Do you realize how much data a photo reveals? Often we can obtain the exact location, date of the photo and when it was uploaded. All this information can become a part of your investigation. We had a case where an individual requested time away from work, and it was denied. The employee subsequently submitted a WSIB’s claim and got the requested time. The employee then posted photos on social media. Our investigators extracted data that placed the subject in Romania.

If the Internet is an iceberg, social media is only the tip. What lies below the surface is massive. A skilled investigator can easily harvest open source data. We recently had a case where a female employee was a part-time yoga instructor, outside of work. At the time of her claim, she turned on her privacy settings to avoid detection. Her only mistake was being showcased in a Yoga studio newsletter that was harvested using search techniques. Despite increased privacy settings, many apps disregard it and provide data the subject thought was hidden.

Can you do these types of investigations yourself? The short answer is yes. However without the necessary skills, you often won’t find what you need. It is also recommended that an independent third party gathers the information and later testify and present the evidence. The data is harvested in an ethical way to ensure privacy has not been violated and formulated into a structured admissible report.

An open source investigation is non-intrusive without any risk of being exposed. Using proxy servers allows investigators to collect data undetected without leaving any digital footprints.

If you have a claim that is under suspicion, maybe it’s time to have a peek.



Winds of Change

April 5th, 2016 Comments off

Brazil is currently facing unprecedented challenges. The country’s economy is in free fall, and the Petrobras scandal continues to provide a black cloud over the country’s leaders. The people of Brazil have become increasingly restless. To date, this has led to large-scale protests and calls for President Dilma Rousseff to step down. The refusal to step down will ultimately lead to a showdown between protesters, opposite parties and the government.

What does this mean for the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio? At this time, mass protests are expected with threats to disrupt the torch run and planned events at venues. During the FIFA World Cup crime spiked and buses used for public transit were set ablaze.

Risk Plan


In working with clients, the following areas represent the greatest threats they wish to prepare contingencies for:

  • Medical and Health Concerns – the Zika virus along with reports of unsafe water and sanitation conditions
  • Political Threats – mass protests and potential removal of the current government
  • Crime – Rio is situated near the Favelas (these areas are beyond police control)
  • Traffic – existing infrastructure will not support the influx of people in Rio


What is your Duty of Care obligation?

If you have paid for the ticket, you are responsible and need to provide some level of protection. If you are found to be negligent, you can expose yourself to liabilities.

  • Pre-Trip Briefings – all personnel and clients attending Rio should be provided with a detailed briefing on the current security and medical risks and what they need to do to mitigate these risks
  • Communication – how will you communicate and provide updates during the games, are employees required to check in?
    • Is there a global security operation or command centre people can call?
  • Travel Tracking – your ability to quickly assess where people are at all times is required in the event of an emergency or crisis
  • Medical Support – you will need to have plans in place in the event medical attention is required
  • Security Support – what measures and precautions will be necessary to protect your people
  • Ongoing Support – flight delays, lost passports, damaged luggage – these are all things that need to be covered in your plan

Risk SecurityWe firmly recommended you review your current travel insurance. Most travel insurance provides protection for day-to-day events and is not geared to crisis or emergency occurrences.

Pay particular attention to the following:

  • Hard Loss Triggers – what event will trigger payment and support for a claim? Often the bar is set very high, and you will find you do not meet the criteria for an allowable claim.
  • Political Protests – most policies view protests as an act of civil disobedience and in extreme cases, These types of events are not covered, and any response will be out of pocket.
  • Natural Disasters – will your policy provide coverage in the case of a natural disaster?
  • Crime – if you are a victim of a crime what will be covered?

Should your insurance not cover these events, you will incur costs for any response options that might be required. If you need help in reviewing insurance or emergency response agreements, please feel free to contact me at We will have one of our risk mitigation specialists conduct a review and provide more information on what you can do to protect yourself and your workforce.

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