Workplace Investigations of “Hostile Work Environment” Complaints

The fallout of harassment, discrimination and retaliation complaints and investigations can be just plain ugly.

Take for instance a recent article on a governmental entity’s response to a complaint against elected officials.  In this case, a Human Resources professional alleged retaliation, among other issues, against three elected officials.  The article suggests that the Interim Manager conducted the investigation into the allegations…that were made against his “bosses.”  His conclusion was that no “illegal” conduct occurred, but no other mention was made (at least in the article) as to the other allegations that the initial complaint appeared to make.

This one is just ugly.  Not only is the appearance of an unbiased investigation destroyed by not using an independent investigation, but the investigation appears to have been so narrow that it ignored some of the  factual allegations that were made altogether.   It is doubtful that the complaining employee will be satisfied with this scenario – not because her allegations were not substantiated, but because the process used appears to be flawed and incomplete.

Employers should follow-up with employee complaints of harassment, retaliation and discrimination promptly.  However, employers also should take the time to assess who should follow-up or more formally investigate the complaint before taking matters into their own hands.  Complaints against high-level officials, such as the case here, almost always should involve an external, impartial evaluation by a third-party investigator.  To do otherwise leaves the nearly irrefutable conclusion that the investigation was flawed and biased from the outset.

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Arbitration: The Recent Wal-Mart Case

Class action lawsuits and the interplay of class-actions have been a hot issue in the labor and employment context.   The dust on these issues, to some extent, settled with a recent Supreme Court decision.  The case highlights the importance of good legal strategy and likely will be the impetus for legislation in this area.

One Mediation’s Lorene Schaefer was interviewed on this case.  Ms. Schefer is a mediator, arbitrator and workplace investigator at One Mediation.

When Children Come First In Divorce…

Great article on ADR in Divorce and the real “whys” of doing divorce with a neutral are answered.

Father’s Day Quiz!

USA Today published some of the results of a survey conducted by Home Instead (an in-home health aid company) regarding families’ preparedness to care for an aging relative.  As you might suspect, either by evaluating your own preparedness or suspiciously eyeing the survey’s sponsor, the results were pretty grim for the elderly.

In USA Today’s article, it did offer one tip that you can do without much muss or fuss:  Find out what drugs a parent can go without and which ones must be taken on schedule.

For Father’s Day, ask the question, write down the answer, and stash it away in your wallet (and then ask again at Thanksgiving).  Proactive care is certainly a gift to an aging father.

Lisa Decker & Divorce

Divorce comes with significant financial considerations and, too often, financial complications.  Lisa Decker has created a course that helps people “divorce their spouse, not their money” – it’s certainly a winning concept in a format that works!

Reprinted with permission.

©2008-2011 Lisa C. Decker, CDFA™.