As Human Resource professionals, we have to conduct employee investigation for many reasons. Conducting an effective and thorough investigation can help a company avoid costly litigation. The EEOC requires employers to investigate allegations of possible discrimination or harassment claims.
Here are some important points to remember when investigating:
- Timely – investigations should be immediate, within 48 hours of being made of aware of the allegation
- Thorough – talk to the person making the allegation and request a written statement; talk to witnesses that may be able to provide input into the allegation
- Discipline – once you have investigated and found validity to the allegation, the employee should be disciplined appropriately which may include termination of employment
- No Retaliation – make sure you, the manager nor any other employee retaliates against the employee bringing forth the allegation
Before conducting the investigation, make sure you review your policies pertinent to the allegation. It is also a good idea to review personnel files of those employees involved to view their employment history and performance. Also, decide who will conduct the investigation; Human Resources may not always be the best choice if he or she is involved in the allegation. It is important to maintain objectivity during an investigation.
Tips for conducting an effective investigation:
- Meet with all parties involved in a private setting to ensure confidentiality
- Have a witness present
- Keep in mind you may have to separate the alleged employee from the complaining employee (i.e. schedule change, department change, suspension, etc.)
- Collect all pertinent materials to assist in the investigation (i.e. emails)
- Get a written statement from the employee, this way they can tell the story in their own words
- Encourage participants to keep the investigation confidential to protect the integrity of the investigation
- Thorough documentation is essential throughout the process
- Conclude the investigation in a timely manner and follow up with appropriate employees
- Place documentation in the employee’s personnel file
- Engage CAI Advice and Resolution or an Attorney for those sticky investigations
If you fail to investigate any claims, you may subject your company to fines imposed by the court. Therefore, conduct a prompt and effective investigation so you can potentially lessen your liability. Additionally, if you notice any patterns that result from the investigation, it may be time to conduct some employee training. Visit MyCAI for some great training templates that can be used in your organization.
If you have further questions relating to employee investigations, feel free to contact Advice and Resolution at 919-878-9222.