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How to Handle Employee Investigations

How should you, as an employer, handle employee investigations into harassment or discrimination?

Discrimination and harassment complaints are a huge headache for employers. Nobody likes an employment lawsuit, and nobody likes dealing with allegations of discrimination.

But when an employee complains about discrimination, you'd better take that complaint seriously. If you don't, you could find yourself in a tight spot, legally speaking.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, workplace discrimination and harassment are illegal. An employer can be subject to huge legal liability as a result of discrimination in the workplace.

Employers are urged to take swift action to respond to these complaints. Part of this swift action is promptly and properly investigating any complaints. If you don't investigate, you're setting yourself up for trouble, as Corp Magazine reminds us.

Here are a few things to be aware of during an employee investigation:

  • Take notes. Proper notes will help you defend your case. Or, in the worst case, they may help you determine if you need to settle.

  • Pay attention to dates and times. These dates and times will help you piece together the story and find holes in the employee's story, if there are any.

  • Talk to the parties separately. Don't have the accuser and the accused in the same room. It's a recipe for disaster.

  • Limit access to employee and personnel files. Files should be kept under tight watch during this process.

Employee investigations are delicate matters and should be taken seriously. Don't drop the ball on an employee investigation, otherwise you could be facing a long battle.

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