Issues among employees arise every day, and employers may respond by conducting some type of internal investigation. Employee complaints do not need to be in writing or “formally” made to warrant an immediate and thorough internal investigation. An organization’s duty to investigate also arises when an employer observes acts or hears statements that suggest prohibited activity. An employee complaint can be about virtually any aspect of the employment relationship, but the issues raised most frequently deal with harassment, discrimination, ethical violations and retaliation.
Preparing for an Investigation
When a complaint is received, the employer should set investigation goals: gathering the facts, determining the merits of the complaint, complying with legal obligations, maintaining confidentiality to the greatest extent possible, preserving the reputations of individuals and company, taking proper remedial action, avoiding liability, and preventing future claims.
While the complaint may initially come to the attention of a human resources manager, or senior manager, these may not be the people best suited to conduct an investigation in all circumstances. One of the first steps is to determine whether the investigation will be conducted in-house or whether the situation warrants an external investigator. The investigation must be accomplished with integrity, fairness, impartiality and respect and in some cases, an external investigator might be viewed as more neutral.
Cenera has experienced, skilled Investigators who will work with the employer to:
- Review the complaint and identify the goals of the investigation;
- Identify the time frame to conduct the investigation;
- Identify any additional legal considerations, such as Human Rights issues;
- Identify and review applicable company policies and relevant physical evidence; and
- Identify potential witnesses and the order in which they should be interviewed.
The Investigators will then independently conduct interviews with all of the identified parties and manage all ongoing communications. The Investigator will write, and deliver to the employer, a final report outlining the findings and making recommendations for further action. All notes, evidence and other materials will be secured, and maintained in confidence, for future use by the employer.