The Lost Art Of Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations

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You are the HR leader for your organization.  Whether you are an executive, a human resources professional, an attorney, an owner, or – in many cases – hold more than one of these titles, when HR issues arise, they come to you.  

Not a day goes by when you are not faced with a new issue/problem/challenge that forces you to change your priorities for that day and attack this new one.  Whether it involves an employee claiming she (or he) was sexually harassed by their supervisor, or complaints of a manager slurring his speech and falling asleep at his desk, or threats of workplace violence from one employee against another, or receipt of a Charge of Discrimination by an employee claiming she was discriminated against based on her age, sex, religion, disability, etc., the "Employee Relations" part of your job never stops.  The more employees your organization has, the more complaints you receive from current and former employees, and the more workplace investigations you must conduct.

Conducting workplace investigations is one of the cornerstones of any HR professional's job duties.  Although there is not just one way to conduct an investigation, there are certain guidelines you should follow to ensure you are conducting a prompt and thorough investigation.  The initial determinations common to virtually all investigations include:

  • Recognize when an investigation in in order
  • Decide what the investigation should establish
  • Select appropriate investigators
  • Identify potential witnesses, documents, computer data, surveillance tapes, etc.
  • Plan the investigation
  • Organize a list of questions to ask the witnesses
  • Establish security for files and records.

Please join me at the 19th Annual Akerman Labor & Employment Law Seminar where we will discuss workplace investigations and other employment law issues.  The workplace investigation breakout session will be a "Case Study" in which we will examine multiple, real life fact patterns and will break down in detail the best way to conduct the investigation.  I hope to see you there.