Are Workplace Investigations Fair?

U.S. employers are becoming more regulated in how they manage employees.  With this increase in regulation, risk management practices to increase compliance and to mitigate liability risks also are increasing.  Depending upon the state an employer is in, workplace investigations may be statutorily mandated or simply an incredibly wise step in response to workplace misconduct reports or complaints.  But, can a workplace investigation really be fair?

A recent article offers some tips to increase actual and perceived fairness surrounding workplace investigations.  While some of these suggestions include additional workplace processes (such as hearings), it correctly points out that investigations should be done promptly and focus on “the evidence.”  Seems simple, right?

Equally simple, it would seem, is that investigations be performed by individuals who have training or experience doing them.  A case in point is a 2011 lawsuit where an employer allowed some of its executives, who had no training, perform an investigation into sexual harassment allegations.  Stewart v. Trans-Acc, Inc., 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44414, at *50 (S.D. Ohio, April 25, 2011).  The employer lost a major defense by failing to provide a reasonable investigation.

Workplace investigation training is critical and offered three times each year by One Mediation’s workplace investigators who have collectively litigated Labor and Employment matters for over 25 years.  The next seminar is September 29, 2012 in Atlanta, with limited space.



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