There is a warning about your legal rights that nearly everybody knows, even if they have never heard the words directly from an investigator. If you have ever watched a cop show on television you appreciate that “you have a right to remain silent” when being questioned. And, anything you say after you have been read your rights can be used against you in a court of law. It’s the Miranda warning.
Officials conducting investigations involving federal employees have similar obligations to inform those they question about their rights. It’s called the Kalkines/Garrity warning. If you’ve never heard of this, it’s time you did to be confident you are protecting your rights to the greatest possible extent if the need arises.
Different warnings for different issues
Perhaps the key difference between the two warnings we’ve mentioned to this point is the purpose they serve. If allegations being investigated are of a criminal nature and you are a target of such allegations, you should be Mirandized – informed that you have a right to remain silent and against self-incrimination.
Kalkines/Garrity warnings make clear that the person questioned has an obligation to answer truthfully. Specifically, the Kalkines warning advises that:
- Refusing to answer questions could mean disciplinary action, including possible dismissal.
- The suspect has criminal immunity for whatever is said.
There is no standardized language for the warning, but the intent is to protect the employee’s rights and advance the goals of legitimate internal or administrative investigations.
In the final analysis, the application of Kalkines/Garrity can help an interviewee distinguish whether a probe involves alleged criminal activity or not. In either case, if you receive such a warning, it’s advisable to speak with an experienced attorney to be sure of your rights and options.