Workplace Investigations: When? Who? What? But, most of all: How?

Lorene Schaefer, Esq., Workplace Investigator in Atlanta, Georgia

Employees have exerted leverage upon employers to “take note” when they raise concerns about discrimination, harassment, retaliation and more.

Recently, the Association of Workplace Investigators was established – an entity that began as a California-focused entity that quickly became a national organization.   What’s the rush?  Employers are finding that it is not only a good practice to review personnel complaints for morale purposes, but also as a means to potentially reduce liability risks (whether with regard to the complaint at hand or to demonstrate a pattern of taking employee complaints seriously).

Articles abound on when to conduct an internal investigation, who should conduct an internal investigation, what should be investigated, but these articles invariably note that a critical factor of HOW these investigations are conducted is often overlooked.  Many workplaces do not have an employee who has the skills or know-how to conduct a proper investigation.  Due to this fact, many employers looked to lawyers or Private Investigators to conduct them.  Later, HR consultants also marketed investigative services.  Generally, it was happenstance as to who could or should conduct an internal workplace investigation.

With states beginning to regulate this “industry” or workplace investigators and the establishment of professional organizations to help enhance the skills, knowledge, and standards of these services, employers arguably have greater guidance in ensuring that they respond well to employee complaints.  However, employers should also be exploring who within their organizations would benefit from greater training in order to conduct a workplace investigation.  Not only does the Association of Workplace Investigators provide training, but other entities such as SHRM and One Mediation, provide workplace investigation training.

Risk Managers, HR professionals, attorneys and security professionals whose practices address workplace matters should add this training to their resume not only to enhance their credentials, but to ensure that their services reflect the industry standards that are being established.

 

 

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One Response to Workplace Investigations: When? Who? What? But, most of all: How?

  1. jkeaton says:

    Another great article about interviewing witnesses in workplace investigations: http://www.hrmorning.com/the-5-cardinal-sins-of-workplace-investigations/

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