Closure is key following a complaints investigation
Everybody likes closure. Nobody likes things hanging out there. Normally the conclusion to an employee complaints investigation includes a report to management. It can be verbal, it can be written. Normally includes documenting whatever disciplinary action is taken against whomever needs discipline as a result of what’s been discovered.
Where companies fall down
Reporting back to witnesses after an employee complaints investigation is sometimes one area where you can gain a great deal of good will with employees by going back to them and closing out the investigation.
You don’t need to say much with the alleged victim. You may go back and say, “We want you to know it’s closed. We want you to know we’ve taken appropriate action.” And you emphasize the policy against retaliation. And that person can feel pretty good just based on those three statements.
The same with the alleged violator, you will want to close it out with him or her. Let them know the matter is closed from the company’s perspective. And sometimes key witnesses also need a little bit hand-holding in this regard and will feel a whole lot better knowing that the employee complaints investigation is concluded and will feel less subject to retaliation, will feel less subject to intimidation knowing that the matter’s over.
So it’s a good idea to – you don’t necessarily need to report back to everyone but certainly the key people. And that again, will be reported to their coworkers as a positive event that the company told them the matter was closed and gave them a sense of closure.
Third party information sharing
At the end of an employee complaints investigation, you may find yourself thinking it is a good idea for the company to give information to other third parties. For example, let’s say that an alleged victim of harassment has a lawyer who’s been shadowing the entire employee complaints investigation and you think the report substantiates the company’s act in a good way and you may want to give it to the lawyer for the victim to show that the company has an affirmative defense to any claims that might want to be brought.
Similarly, the government may expect to receive a copy of your investigation report. If it’s in the nuclear industry, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission may be expecting to be briefed and particularly if it’s a nuclear safety issue involving a whistleblower. The Securities and Exchange Commission or other agencies that might launch an investigation might be satisfied with yours if you reach out to them and show them the matter has been concluded in a satisfactory way.
That’s not always appropriate. And in some instances, you will not want to do that because it may indeed trigger a lengthy and more burdensome investigation from that agency but it’s something to consider.
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