Monday, January 30, 2012

Tips on investigating discrimination and harassment complaints -- what every association should know
Whiteford Taylor & Preston LLP
Tiffany M. Releford
December 20 2011

An employee complains to the Human Resources Manager that he/she is being discriminated against by another employee. What happens next? What action should be taken to investigate the complaint?

Foremost, the key to investigating a complaint is to be consistent, have a predefined process in place, follow that process, and understand the objectives of the investigation. A good investigator is one that understands the policies of the organization and/or association, uses discretion and confidentiality in conducting an investigation, and is fair and impartial. The first thing to do is to determine what level of investigation is needed. Is it a matter of calling the affected parties and interviewing them by phone, or is further action required, such as consulting with legal counsel and having counsel conduct an investigation? If you decide no investigation is necessary, document the decision and the reasoning, and inform the complainant of the decision. If the complainant comes back with more information/detail, review the additional information and determine if an investigation should now be undertaken.

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