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On Demand

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: The Impact of Race in Investigations

Bias |  Credibility |  External Investigators |  Internal Investigators |  Interviewing
Ms. Christina J. Ro-Connolly |  Zaneta Butscher Seidel |  Alezah Trigueros
1 Hour, 28 Minutes
Audio and Video
Original Program Date:
Sep 24, 2020
Never expires.


This presentation identifies common issues that arise during the course of an investigation related to the race, or perceived race, of the investigator.  These three attorney investigators of color will use hypothetical scenarios and examples from their practice to discuss ways that an investigator’s race can be an asset and a challenge in investigations, how to respond to client requests for an investigator of color, tools and tips for interviewing across racial differences, and why investigators should be self-aware about bias and how their race and cultural competency can influence their investigations. 

Learning Objectives 

This presentation aims to:  

  • Identify common challenges and advantages an investigator’s race can present in investigations;
  • Provide tips on how to respond to client requests for specific investigators based on race;
  • Provide tools for interviewing and building rapport across racial differences;
  • Discuss how to address uncomfortable tensions that might arise around race in investigations;
  • Discuss how an investigator’s race and cultural competency, or lack thereof, can affect report writing, credibility assessments, factual findings, and other aspects of an investigation; and
  • Highlight the importance of self-awareness and continued investment in cultural competency in successful investigations

Disclaimer: The contents of this webinar and the positions taken are those of the presenter only, may be time sensitive, and are not warranted, endorsed or otherwise recommended by AWI and are not intended to provide legal advice.




Ms. Christina J. Ro-Connolly's Profile

Ms. Christina J. Ro-Connolly


Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP

Christina J. Ro-Connolly, AWI-CH is a Partner with Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP.  Tina has over a decade of labor and employment law experience and joined the firm after serving for 11 years at the Contra Costa County Counsel’s Office, advising departments on legal matters for a workforce of approximately 9,000 employees. Such legal matters included employee discipline, employee complaints, discrimination complaints, wage and hour complaints, alleged labor violations, and labor negotiations.  Tina has conducted numerous investigations with Oppenheimer Investigations Group, many of which included allegations against elected officials and high-level executives. Tina leads AB1825 trainings, workplace investigator trainings, and bias trainings and also conducts audits of internal workplace investigations.  Tina is a member of the California State Bar and the Contra Costa County Bar Association, a sustaining member of AWI, and a graduate of AWI’s Training Institute for Workplace Investigators. Tina is also an AWI Certificate Holder (AWI-CH) and has also received the certificate from T9 Mastered to conduct Title IX investigations.  Tina is also a Member of the Executive Committee of the California Lawyers Association, Labor and Employment Section, as well as a member of the AWI Institute Committee.  

Zaneta Butscher Seidel's Profile

Zaneta Butscher Seidel

Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP

Zaneta Seidel, AWI-CH has been conducting neutral workplace and school investigations with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer, now Oppenheimer Investigations Group, since 2017. Zaneta has conducted over 80 investigations involving allegations of discrimination based on race, gender, age, sexual orientation and religion as well as allegations sexual assault, sexual harassment, retaliation, bullying, and other misconduct. More than 30 of Zaneta’s investigations have included allegations reported against high-level executives and elected officials. Zaneta has also conducted climate assessments and served as an ombudsman to help organizations understand and take action to resolve the workplace concerns of their employees. In addition to her investigative work, Zaneta speaks about how race can affect investigations and she gave a presentation at AWI’s 2019 Annual Conference on “Addressing the Elephant in the Room: The Impact of Race in Investigations.” She also conducts a Conflict Resolution and Effective Communication training for work groups. Zaneta earned her Bachelor’s degree from UCLA and her Juris Doctor from Columbia University School of Law, where she served on the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and interned with UNHCR in Geneva, Switzerland. Before becoming an attorney investigator, Zaneta practiced business litigation for eight years, first with Baker & McKenzie’s New York Office and then with Bartko Zankel Bunzel & Miller after she moved back home to the San Francisco Bay Area. Zaneta is a member of the California and New York state bars, a sustaining member of AWI, a graduate of the AWI’s Training Institute for Workplace Investigators, and an AWI Certificate Holder (AWI-CH). Zaneta has also received a certificate from T9 Mastered to conduct Title IX investigations.


Office Phone: 3934212

Alezah Trigueros's Profile

Alezah Trigueros

Oppenheimer Investigations Group LLP

Alezah Trigueros, AWI-CH has been conducting impartial workplace investigations with the Law Offices of Amy Oppenheimer since 2014. She received her Juris Doctor from the Indiana University Maurer School of Law and her Bachelor’s degree in history from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Alezah?has conducted more than 150 workplace and Title IX investigations?and assessments of issues including discrimination, harassment, assault, and bullying. More than 50 of these investigations have been for educational?institutions, including sexual assault allegations in middle schools, high schools, and universities. She has also investigated allegations against high-level executives, elected officials, and high-profile individuals in the entertainment industry. Alezah is a sustaining member of the Association of Workplace Investigators (AWI), completed AWI’s Training Institute for Workplace Investigators in 2015, has served as junior faculty at two subsequent Institutes, is an AWI Certificate Holder (AWI-CH), and is Convener of the San Francisco Bay Area AWI Local Circle. Alezah has also received certificates from the Association of Title IX Administrators (ATIXA) and T9 Mastered to conduct Title IX investigations. Alezah is also Board Secretary for the Northern California Employment Round Table (NCERT) and has co-authored articles for the California Labor & Employment Law Review, AWI Journal, and Bloomberg Law.