When your employee makes a formal or non-formal complaint, you need to take immediate action to protect both parties. Not to mention stop the potential conflict, and start investigations. Remember that under various laws, you are legally responsible for investigating all corporate complaints in a timely manner. This includes discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Besides, you must take the right corrective action to make sure illegal behaviors and actions stop immediately.
A quick response to a complaint and a proper corporate investigation can give the best information and evidence. Even better, it can improve the credibility of you and the investigator. To achieve this, you should hire a corporate intelligence investigations attorney. An attorney can help you investigate every case that could be brought to a court of law. This article explains how you can do a credible corporate investigation.
Investigations can help your company identify and resolve internal and external issues before they become more serious. Given that most complaints have the potential to become lawsuits, it’s a good idea to launch investigations quickly. You should also ensure they are thorough and effective to protect everyone.
It’s also important to protect the confidentiality of the claims of employees. At the same time, you must do a quick and effective investigation. But it can be hard to keep all information collected in the first complaint like records and interviews, entirely confidential.
Therefore, you need to explain to the complaining parties and all other stakeholders involved in the investigation that the information collected will be confidential. Detail this as you need to for a proper investigation. Also, you should explain that to do an effective investigation, there will be a need to reveal some information to potential witnesses or instigators. Confirm that the information will only be given in special situations. An employer must never promise complete confidentiality to any person involved in the investigation.
It’s important to consider taking instant measures to protect the alleged victim or the accuser. Separating the accuser from the alleged victim can be useful to protect a person from more retaliation or harassment. So actions such as transfer, schedule change, or leave of absence can be necessary. However, complaints must not be involuntarily burdened or transferred.
It’s worth noting that these types of measures can seem to be retaliatory that may lead to the retaliation claim. Therefore, you need to work with the accuser to come up with an agreeable solution. You may also want to seek a legal opinion before making any decisions.
While there are various investigators out there, it’s always important to select one who has the right qualifications. The right investigator should be able to investigate objectively and should have no interest in the outcome. It means the investigator should not have relationships with any of the parties. Additionally, the outcome must not have any effect on the investigator’s role in the company.
It’s also necessary for the investigator to have proper investigation skills. This includes knowledge of employment laws and investigative knowledge. They should also have great interpersonal skills to help them to build a good rapport with the people involved. These skills help them to remain fair and neutral. The investigator should have attention to detail and the right temperament to do interviews.
Furthermore, a good investigator needs to maintain confidentiality and have respect for the company. This is because their conclusions will be used to conclude the issues. They should also act as a reliable witness and stand a good chance of continuing employment with your company.
Many employers tend to use the resources of internal security, HR professionals, third-party investigators, and legal counsel which can either be from inside or outside. There are specific advantages and disadvantages for using each type of investigator that you decide to use:
Human Resource (HR) is perhaps the most common option. Many employers usually give the responsibility for investigations to professionals in HR because they have specialized job training and experience in doing workplace investigations. A good advantage of using HR staff is their excellent interpersonal skills make employees feel comfortable and willing to tell them everything.
An HR professional can also be impartial, has knowledge of the company, is familiar with the workers, and knows the employment laws. However, many employees can associate HR professionals too closely with the company’s management. Therefore, they may not look at them as neutral in the ongoing investigation. Management can also have objections if the HR staff has a close connection with one of the parties.
These experts usually have training in various investigation techniques to allow them to gather information from sources that an investigator with less experience can overlook. Unfortunately, because of this training and their assertive style, they can be seen as intimidating by the staff, so they may become less productive.
Therefore, you need to think about the specific internal security staff’s interpersonal skills, relationships with the people involved, or approach to conflict. Security personnel can also have little knowledge of the employment law, so this tends to limit their ability to determine whether or not the sources are reliable and the evidence admissible in court.
Legal counsel investigators include both in-house and outside. These investigators have certain privileged and ethical considerations. They need to disclose any involvement with the company to the people in the corporate investigation and the lawyer-employer relationship.
Simply put, legal counsel investigators must disclose that your company, not the person is the client. The good news is that outside counsel can bring objectivity, though it may not know the culture and employees of your company. They also know the employment laws, so they can collect evidence that is admissible in court.
This is where in-house counsel comes in handy as they know the company’s culture and its staff. But both outside and in-house counsel can seem to be intimidating, which can prevent employees from being more open and give information.