Today is Halloween. Celebrate if you choose, but don’t let today, or another day, turn into a nightmare at work by failing to investigate a complaint of harassment, discrimination, or other alleged misconduct.
Follow these steps when you receive a complaint at work:
- Investigate everything. No matter how minor or major the complaint may seem, investigate it.
- Investigate promptly. Same day is ideal. If that is not possible, begin the investigation as soon thereafter as possible.
- Investigate thoroughly. Leave no stone unturned. Interview all witnesses. Review all documents (emails and text messages are often where key information will be found), photographs, videos and any other tangible items.
- Use the who, what, when , why, how method of questioning to obtain the information you need. Start broadly and then focus on the specific.
- Make sure the investigator is unbiased and knowledgeable about the process. HR or Risk Management/Compliance are typically an excellent choice to handle the investigation. If that is not an option consider retaining outside counsel to do so.
- After the investigation is complete share the conclusions/findings with the complainant and take appropriate corrective action promptly.
If you follow these steps you can avoid turning a work complaint into a nightmare, on Halloween or any other day.