If one of your employees makes a discrimination complaint against a senior or a colleague, you should investigate the case to obtain adequate information, no matter how minor the issue may seem. But you should be careful when doing this to avoid potentially costly mistakes.
You should follow your company’s policies regarding how to initiate the investigation, collect evidence or handle sensitive documents, among other issues. If you wish to work with an external investigator, they should follow these practices, as your employees are going to trust that you’ll honor the approach that you’ve outlined in their employee handbooks, etc. Deviating from best practices can result in negative consequences for a host of reasons.
Initiating the investigation
What is the goal of the investigation? The chances of an investigation resulting in reliable results can be high when you are clear in re: what you’re looking for.
Gathering evidence is a crucial step as you begin navigating your workplace discrimination investigation. You can do this by interviewing the involved parties (the complainant and the accused) and witnesses, watching video footage, assessing performance reports and so on. If a case involves evidence that can be lost, you should preserve it right away.
Taking proper precautions
A discrimination case can lead to tension in your workplace. For this reason, you should put precautions in place. For example, if an allegation is serious, such as sexual harassment, you may need to ask the accused to take an administrative leave. But you should be compassion extended to both parties until the case is resolved. Therefore, even when implementing precautions, the accused party should not be treated harshly or made to feel guilty.
Additionally, some workplace discrimination cases go unreported because complainants don’t want to feel their privacy has been invaded. Thus, you should maintain confidentiality, to the extent you can, in your investigation to protect your employees.
Investigating workplace discrimination can be complicated. Consider seeking legal guidance to better ensure that your company’s interests – and the rights of everyone involved – aren’t compromised as a result of your efforts.