There is a reason why there are company policies: They are there to make sure that everyone follows the rules and regulations to maintain order within the company. So, if one were to commit harassment of any kind, then that would be an obvious breach of sample company policy. However, you cannot just accuse someone of harassment unless you have all the information and evidence you need to make sure that your claim is justified. This is why you need a checklist that will help you perform an effective and efficient investigation Here are the things you need to know:
Before starting the investigation
- If you think that your company has the budget for it, then you should definitely consider hiring investigators to ensure that you are able to gather all of the information that you need. You may also see workplace investigation report templates.
- Create a confidential file that only you and those involved in the investigation may access. You may also see checklist templates.
- If you are going to conduct employee interviews with those who were involved in the harassment incident, be sure that you do it in private.
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When gathering the facts
- Go through the policies in your company and review all of the relevant personal files. This will help you get important information useful to the harassment investigation.
- Inform those involved in the incident about the investigation, but make sure to tell them that you cannot promise total confidentiality. This is because you may have to use their names to help you get what you need. You may also like statement templates.
- Find out everything that happened. Do not accept just a simple explanation; get as many details as you can. This means getting names, dates, locations, and anything that could factor into the harassment that happened.
- Find out the effects of the harassment on the victim. The issue may be far greater than you think, so checking on the victim’s status is something you have to do if you want to see if he or she can still work for your company.
- Ask the victim what he or she would like you to do and assess the victim’s credibility.
Interview the accused perpetrator
- Explain the reason why you are conducting the interview and be sure to state that no decision has been made regarding the truthfulness of the allegations. You need to say this to ensure that the person will give you more information regarding the incident.
- Tell the accused about the victim and the basis of the employee complaint regarding harassment.
- Ask the accused to respond to the charges as soon as possible.
- Find out the names of the witnesses so that you can interview them. You need as much information as you can get, so anyone who was there when the incident occurred is definitely people you should talk to. You may also see sample checklists.
- Assess the perpetrator’s credibility, take a legal statement, and make sure that you take notes during the interview.
Interviewing the witness
- Try to get the witness to talk about the victim and the perpetrator. This way, you will be able to see if the person was indeed a witness and if the information he or she provides is credible enough to be used in the investigation. You may also see sample witness statement templates.
- Find out everything that the witness knows. Anything related to the incident will be extremely useful and the witness has a different insight compared to the victim and the accused perpetrator.
- Assess if everything that the witness has told you matches up with the notes you have. This will help you see if everything adds up, if there are things that have yet to be uncovered, or if the witness is lying to you.
- If it warrants, ask that person to make a witness statement for you and ask him or her to sign the document.
Evaluate the facts
Go through all of the facts carefully with a reasonable perspective. Once you have done that, create a thorough report by following the guidelines below:
- Make the report chronological.
- Describe when you first heard about the harassment claim.
- Provide as much detail as you can regarding the harassment claim.
- Note down all of the documents that you have reviewed.
- Describe all of the HR interviews that you have conducted.
- For the witnesses you have interviewed, distinguish what information is firsthand knowledge and what is just based on rumors.
- Recommend a specific action that needs to be taken should the claim be justified. You have to make sure that the corrective action is something that can prevent further harassment, does not punish the victim, and consistent with the disciplinary actions involved in similar situations.
Then, once everything is done, be sure to submit the investigation report to the right official. Finally, if you would like to learn more information about workplace policies, check out the other articles featured on our website.