Companies have to make sure that there is order within the workplace, which is the reason why they come up with company policies to ensure that employees know what they can and cannot do. However, there are still those employees who commit acts of harassment against their coworkers. So, whenever those in upper management receive a complaint from an employee who has been harassed, an immediate investigation has to be done. This article is going to focus on the list of things that you have to do in order for you to carry out the harassment investigation process.
If you have received a workplace complaint regarding harassment issues from multiple sources, then make sure that the following steps are on your investigation checklist:
You may have to act right away even before the investigation is completed. Let us say that an employee has filed a sexual harassment claim against a coworker. This is a very serious issue to tackle and you want to guarantee that no evidence will be tampered with, so the best thing to do is to suspend the accused until the investigation has been completed.
Go with someone who has the necessary training or experience when it comes to handling investigations of this nature. This person must also be impartial and able to professionally handle herself when testifying in court.
Organize everything that you need to investigate the case. Gather all of the information that you have on the problem such as the employee complaints, written warnings, supervisor reports, or any other documents that can be used to look into the problem. Use all of the information that you have available so that you will be able to look into the events that took place during the incident. Think about things such as who you are going to interview, if there were any witnesses, the date and time when the harassment took place, and more.
The best way to make a decision is to gather as much information as possible, so you need to go around and ask a series of questions. Interview the person who is accused of the harassment as well as the person who claims to be the victim. Once that is done, then you have to interview any witnesses who may have been there during the time the harassment occurred; you may just be able to get a witness statement out of them. When interviewing these people, make sure that every single one of your questions cannot be answered with just a “yes”or “no”. Ensure that you ask open-ended questions to help you gain as much information as possible.
The more documents you have pertaining to the harassment, the more evidence you will be able to use to back up the harassment claim. So, gather everything such as personnel files, email messages, company policies, correspondences, and so on. All of these are very important in helping you make the final decision.
The most difficult part of an investigation is figuring out the specific details of what actually happened. Take a look at all of the evidence that you were able to collect and use them to see whose story is more plausible. There might be cases where someone who is involved in the investigation intentionally provided you with false information during the interviews, so these documents will help you determine whether or not these people were telling the truth. If you think that you do not have enough information, then keep gathering evidence and evaluate every piece until you can come up with a conclusion.
If the harassment claim is valid, then you have to follow your company’s protocol in the event that someone has been found guilty of harassment. In most cases, it would lead to immediate termination.
Once everything is said and done, you should write an investigation report that states everything that you did and why you did them. This will help protect you and your company from potential lawsuits and it will help you deal with similar problems in the future should it ever happen again.
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