INVESTIGATION ADVICE, TRAINING, INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATOR

 

LET’S DISCUSS.  CALL US OR EMAIL TRIAD HR CONSULTING

512.734.0103.  Dorothy@triadhrconsulting.com.   www.triadhrconsulting.com

 

 

 

9 STEPS TO INTERNAL INVESTIGATIONS

1.  Investigation Planning

 

Begin planning within 2-4 days of complaint.  Document date of planning, who involved.

Investigations must be “prompt”.  Court cases have said beginning investigation 3 days after the complaint was timely, but four weeks to initiate was not.

1.  Consider options of what happens to employee pending investigation?  Suspension or transfer? Paid leave or other accommodation? Modify reporting relationship pending investigation complete?

2.  How is evidence handled, who, where, security?

3.  Who should be interviewed/sequence? (witnesses identified by complainant, employees who work closely with accused). Document interviews (see form)

Reminder – All notes may be requested in future procedures

No opinions.  Interviewer makes no conclusions or assumptions.

4.  Involve law enforcement if discover possible criminal misconduct

2.  Documents

 

Most documents are based on events prior to the problem being discovered so they are considered the most accurate.  There was no reason to falsify or distort them.  They also provide background information.  Documents guide toward truth of the allegation, verify details, and refresh memories.

1.  Identify materials to review before Interviews.

(Union Contracts, policy, documentation, performance reviews, performance improvement notes, statistics, calendars, emails, notes,  emails, correspondence)

2.  Review files or other investigations of similarly accused/ similar conduct or similarly situated

3.   Interview/ review files of others identified who complainant believes were treated better

4.  Review files – personnel, payroll, hiring records, promotion, transfer, evaluations.  Check for ay performance issues, improvement plans, coaching, etc.

3.  Cautionary Notes

 

1.  Document all Interviews, include date and who interviewed.

2.  If there has been no wrongdoing established, communicate same to Complainant

3.  Plan open ended questions, informal and friendly approach., but factual – Joe Friday – Just the facts, Ma’am just the facts.

4.  The interviewer acquires knowledge, not disclose it.  Allow interviewee do the talking and limit interruptions.

5. Conduct follow up interviews if needed.

4.  Investigation File
  1. Chronology of events
  2. List of people contacted or involved, List of documents reviewed
  3. Communications
  4. Complainant, Witness Alleged Wrongdoer statements
  5. Documentation to establish or refute issue
  6. Physical evidence, Report of investigation
  7. Documentation of Results/ remedial action taken
  8. Summary of allegations and responses of allegations ,
  9. Record of employer’s appropriate actions –  be objective and factual
  10. Response:  allegations corroborated or disproven
  11. Exclude conclusions of credibility or merits of complaint

 

 

5.  Evaluate and Conclude 1.  Realize that the investigation may not identify all answers and identify the truth to every question.

2.  The employees affected by the investigation and the process deserve a determination.

3.  Question – Do the facts, witness statements and document support the allegation by 51% or more.  Is it more likely than not to have occurred?

5.  Review the information to ensure any post investigation changes have solid background and reasoning with clarity of improvements needed.

6.  Final Report – a summary of the investigation to document what was done and that in fact an investigation was conducted.  No speculation and opinion, keep simple and factual.

7.  listing of witnesses, statements, include credibility, motivations.

Mark any drafts as Confidential and limited # who review – need to know, including legal.

8.  Include direct quotes, refer to policies, practices and written procedures.

9.  Avoid legal conclusions or reception of violations of law, contract or corporate liability.

10.  Identify contradictions or conflicts.

11.  Any confession or admission that was made Be specific and quotes.

12.  Identify final decision maker.  If requested, make a recommendation that is not punitive to the victim, unreasonable or retaliatory and consistent with other discipline.

6.  Follow Up 1.  Meet separately and individually with the complainant and the subject of the allegation

2.  Decision maker should be high enough level to know how others treated in similar situations .

3. Remind managers that no retaliation is allowed, check back within six months to be sure.

4.  Prevention – What can be done to prevent, patterns? Training for prevention?

7.  What can go wrong? 1.       Documentation, lack of

2.       Interviews – refusal to participate

3.       Employee bring a friend or attorney,   Witness raises new claims,   Threats

4.       Confidentiality, Delays, Remaining Neutral

5.       Weingarten rights of a union employee to union rep presentation

6.       Promises of confidentiality, identify purpose, ask employee to use best judgment and discretion when discussing with others, truth and candor required

7.       Retaliation

8.  Union Involvement 1.  Employers must permit  a union representative to provide “advice and active assistance” to the employee who is being interviewed,

2.  The Union Rep can provide information, such as the subject matter,

3.  Must be allowed a private meeting before the questioning begins, to speak during the interview, object to a confusing question or ask for clarification,

4.  May advise the employee to refuse to answer questions if they are abusive, misleading, badgering or harassing, or provide information to justify the employer’s conduct.

9. Whistleblower retaliation 1.  Common outcomes which can cause liability concerns, affect a company’s morale, and reputation.

2.  If proven to be true it can be expensive.

3.  Any actions taken against the employee after the complaint can be found to be retaliatory.

4.  Reduce this possibility by limiting the distribution of any preliminary information.

contact me to discuss:  Dorothy Person, TRIAD HR Consulting

512.734.0103.  Dorothy@triadhrconsulting.com.   www.triadhrconsulting.com