Conducting organized and thorough workplace investigations makes business sense (to say nothing of legal sense). I wrote about this at Thorough Investigation Helps Your Case and I referred to Diane Strategic HR Lawyer.
I read an article called "How to Conduct Effective Internal Investigations of Workplace Matters" by Daryll J. Neuser in the Summer 2005 issue of Employee Relations Law Journal (no link available). In this article, Mr. Neuser outlines "The Twelve Steps of an Effective Internal Investigation":
- Interview the Complainant
- Carefully document the complaint and plan the investigation
- Determine whether the complaint allegations require immediate intervention
- Inform the accused's supervisor about the complaint (without detail and get the supervisor to act as the support investigator)
- Determine whether the complaint allegations, if true, violate a company work rule, policy or procedure
- Interview all potential witnesses
- Interview the accused
- Review the accused's personnel file
- Document the totality of the internal investigation
- Decide whether the objectionable conduct did occur and determine appropriate corrective action
- Inform all interested parties of the investigations conclusions
- Create a final investigative file
While I would agree with most of these steps, what concerns me is the scope of disclosure. As Mr. Neuser notes, disclosure is on a "need-to-know" basis, but who needs to know? Also, does the company have a policy regarding internal investigations?
Often in the course of an investigation it will be necessary for the investigators to assess "credibility" of, for example, the complainant and the accused. More on this tomorrow.