Investigations of harassment and/or discrimination

Thu Mar 12 2020

When an employer receives a complaint of alleged harassment or discrimination, they are required by law to conduct an internal investigation. Employers should make sure that their employees feel respected and safe at work. Therefore, if any employee addresses issues of harassment or discrimination, employers should take the matter seriously and not have it overlooked. Taking action against workplace discrimination not only increases employee relations but complies with the law; uncooperative employers can face significant liability if an employee decides to follow through with litigation.

Retaining a third-party to conduct the investigation is an HR best practice. Although conducting the internal investigation yourself is appropriate and complies with the law, it is always a best practice to have an impartial third party conduct the investigation. The complaining employees can then rest assured that there is no favoritism, and that their complaint was dealt with in the utmost professional manner. As HR Consultants and independent third parties, we make sure that the investigation is fair and objective.

Once the investigation is completed, the employer must circle back with the employee to let him/her know of the outcome of the investigation. Once the internal investigation is completed, the law requires employers to circle back with the complainant (your employee), to let him/her know of the outcome of the investigation. Make sure that all of your witness interviews are documented, as well as your findings. These records will help you in the event the complaining employee decides to pursue the matter further and retain legal counsel.

If you have at least 5 employees, by the end of 2020, all of your employees should be trained in harassment prevention. Provide your management team with updated training every two years (2-hour training) to ensure that the information is fresh in their minds – It’s the law! Your hourly employees should also be re-trained regularly for at minimum one (1) hour. These trainings provide thorough and comprehensive topics and teach management how to identify workplace harassment, prevent it and how to take prompt action.

Hourly employee harassment prevention training is a condensed version of the full harassment training; this training is one hour in length. This course provides valuable information, so hourly employees are aware of what to do if they notice harassment in the workplace, and/or if they feel hostility or abusive conduct in their workplace. It is certainly an HR best practice to train ALL employees, even if you have less than 5 employees in your workplace.