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5 Guidelines for a Legal Investigation in the Workplace

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Sometimes, it may be necessary to have a workplace investigation. If there was some kind of allegation of misconduct, for example, it is absolutely vital that such an investigation take place. All involved employees may be subjected to questioning and the accused person will have a chance to respond. The employer must investigate before reacting or responding to anything. Failure to investigate may ultimately prove very costly.
Many employers have been known to fire someone without proper investigation or consulting an employment lawyer only for it to come back and bite them. Let’s take a closer look at what to know about a workplace investigation.

1. Fairness Of The Procedure

An employer must be disciplined enough to follow procedural fairness before dishing out any form of discipline. Every little bit of the circumstances must be fully investigated and understood before any measures are taken. An employer must investigate if there is some kind of misconduct or inappropriate behaviour such as harassment, sexual harassment, bullying or drug use, for example. All facts must be obtained before confronting the employee in question, give the employee the opportunity to explain their version and then decide if any punishment is warranted.

2. Systematic Investigation

A fair, investigative framework system must be implemented so that investigative procedures and principles are adhered to in order that the investigation is conducted properly. This allows for the procedure to be as transparent as possible from the onset. It also helps to avoid wasting time and resources. The investigation must only deal with facts as this will help to determine a conclusion and any recommended action.

3. Timing

The timing of any investigation is important. As more time passes, memories may fade with the possibility of facts being embellished, things may change and documentation may be misplaced. However, it is important to note that there must be a good balance of a speedy investigation and a thorough one.

4. Examining Preceding Issues

Assessing all the preliminary issues is the first step the investigator should take before the investigation and starting any interviews. Assessing the nature of the complaint, the parties involved and any workplace policies are all important steps the investigator should take.

5. Reluctant Participants

One issue that could throw a wrench in the works could be the reluctance of other employees in participating in these investigations. Some employees may not be happy about getting involved in the investigation and they may state their reasons for their reluctance. However, an employer is pretty much obligated to investigate an incident of workplace misconduct and in general, the employer has the right to insist that the reluctant employee or employees must take part in the investigation. These employees must be given the chance to take part but if they refuse, then they can be disciplined themselves for failing to co-operate.

The interviews are a crucial part of these investigations. As mentioned, it is best to conduct these interviews when everything is still fresh in everyone’s memories. The Investigation is finalized and all documents are gathered and with only the facts at hand, a conclusion can be obtained. Sometimes, there can also be a report. The employer must always remember that the investigation must be thorough and there must be enough evidence to make a firm decision and the person accused has had a chance to respond.

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