Leading directly to the fact in issue. Direct evidence includes:
- Statements by the parties and witnesses who were present. “Eye witnesses” or persons who were present at the time of the facts in dispute
- Physical evidence (pictures, paper and electronic documents), for example, a video of the respondent putting offensive graffiti on the complainant’s locker or an email exchange between the parties.
Direct evident is strongest and should be given the greatest weight in assessing the case.
Establishes facts that – when taken with other facts – support the findings of an investigation.
Indirect evidence includes:
- Circumstantial evidence
- Evidence that helps to establish the consistency of the story and its timeline
It is not as persuasive as direct evidence.
Shows that a person engaged in conduct similar to the conduct in question, perhaps with other persons or the same person at another time, for example:
- A former employee’s statement that she left her employment because of sexual harassment by the same employee in question.
- The more similar conduct, the stronger the case. However, similar fact evidence does not carry the same weight as direct evidence. It is most often relevant in sexual harassment cases
Statement made by someone who is not the witness and offered for its truth. Examples of hearsay evidence include:
- A witness’ statement that the Complainant told her the Respondent sexually solicited her.
It is always best (but not always possible) to obtain evidence directly from the source. Where possible, interview the person that made the statement rather than relying on the person recounting the statement. In some situations, hearsay can be used but should be given appropriate weight. Direct evidence is stronger.
Acknowledged experts’ opinions are sometimes admitted as evidence. For example, in sexual harassment cases, experts have explained the historical effect of sexual harassment on women and why as a result, they sometimes fail to report incidents in a timely manner.