The EEOC requires that employers receiving a complaint, or otherwise learning of allegedharassmentin the workplace, investigate promptly and thoroughlytake immediate and appropriate corrective action by doing whatever is necessary to end the harassment, make the victim whole by restoring lost employment benefits or opportunities, and prevent the misconduct from recurring. Thats a tall order to ensure a just and fair handling of aharassment complaint- an essential order that all organizations are required to follow. The investigation process is, perhaps, the most critical element in dealing with harassment. In cases that have gone to court it is often due to inadequate or absent investigations of complaints.
While there is no such legal requirement for instances of bullying (in which the definition varies widely), it is at the organizations peril to not investigate bullying complaints. Employees and their attorneys are using various tort laws to bring action against their employer. Additionally, it is possible that an incident of bullying may be motivated by the targets protected class and constitutes illegal discrimination or harassment.
The courts have opined that organizations must prevent and intervene on harassment complaints. The employer is required to demonstrate what it has done toprevent harassment. Not only is conducting an investigation a prevention and intervention tactic, but the HR professional tasked with conducting an investigation should be trained in how to do sothis also demonstrates prevention.
Even if you have been doing investigations for years if you have never been trained, how do you know if you are conducting them correctly to prevent liability, determine the accuracy of the complaint, corroborate evidence, determine credibility, and form an opinion? This program will cover the intricacies of conducting a harassment investigation.
To determine if an investigation is necessary
To discuss the steps of an investigation
To explore the intricacies of interviewing the accuser, accused and witnesses
To differentiate between a formal and informal investigative procedures
To determine credibility and reach a conclusion following an investigation
To write a formal report outlining the investigation
Discussion about if and when an investigation is required
Comparison of a formal and informal investigation process
Planning for the investigation
Sample interview questions provided for the target, the accused and witnesses
Review of what constitutes a witness
Legal issues surrounding an investigation such as confidentiality, defamation of character, and false imprisonment
The importance of documentation of each interviewee
Examples of appropriate and inappropriate documentation and why it is critical
Specific details regarding how to corroborate evidence
List of criteria to determine credibility of those interviewed
He said/she said
The role of the investigator in forming an opinion following the investigation
How to follow-up with the target, accused, and the organization
The critical importance of an investigative report
The elements of an investigative report to minimize liability
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