3 Keys to set the right tone with an employee complaint investigation

by on May 4, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Take every work investigation seriously, no matter how minor

You know that when conducting an employee complaint investigation, it’s important to set the right tone.

After all, employees involved in an incident are already a bit sensitive and are prone to call the first lawyer they see on television. Remedy: Show workers that you’re taking the matter seriously and maintaining confidentiality.

Here’s how you can set the right tone during an employee complaint investigation, according to employment-law expert Daniel Westman.

  1. Find private, secure location
  2. Obviously, you don’t want to conduct your interview of a worker in a visible location within earshot of other workers. And you don’t want to make the interview threatening.

    But, Westman said, he’s seen many lawsuits where an employee thinks he’s being locked in a room and not allowed to leave.

    Instead: Conduct the interview in a private location such as a manager’s office or a conference room.

    If the incident was violent, keep the location of the interview away from any workers deemed hostile by the complaining worker.

  3. Sign their testimony
  4. Have employees either write out or type up their testimony – and then sign it. (You may want to include language that they are signing under oath.)

  5. Communicate completion
  6. Follow-up lets workers know you took the matter seriously.

    You don’t have to tell them the outcome of the employee complaint investigation. Inform them in writing or through e-mail that the investigation is complete and that appropriate action has been taken.

    Adapted from Westman’s Webinar, “Complaint Investigations: How to Be Thorough and Avoid Legal Pitfalls, 6/15/06.

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