HR Hot Tip for February 2018

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HR Harassment Investigation
How to Protect Your Company – 6 Steps

Recently HR Alternative Consulting, Inc. was contracted by several companies to conduct an internal harassment investigation. Due to the investigations, several issues were uncovered and one of the major concerns was a poorly written Employee Handbook.

Harassment is a critical concern, no doubt. What’s the status of your policy on harassment? And, what about all those other policies that you need? It’s easy to let policies slide, but you can’t afford to, your Employee Handbook policies are your only hope for consistent and compliant management that avoids lawsuits.

When harassment or other violations are charged, you must investigate.

Do Them – Quickly! Don’t hesitate to investigate. In fact, investigations are required in some states, where harassment is involved. Time elapsed is a factor, so definitely don’t delay. It is very important to start your investigation within 24 to 48 hours. And if not quickly commenced, document the reason for delay.

Choose Your Expert Investigator Wisely. You may work with an internal executive, if qualified in Federal/State employment law, or an outside expert, such as an HR consultant who is an expert. Whoever you choose, the person should be neutral in outlook and willing to gather and consider all the evidence and testimony. Objectivity is the key.

Stay on Track. It’s easy to stray off the main issues and head off on interesting, but irrelevant or even illegal, paths into the private lives of those involved. Start with a plan, and stay with it. Don’t stray beyond areas “required by business necessity”.

Respect Policy. Your investigation should track your existing policies, as expressed in your policy manual, Employee Handbook, and any employee contracts or agreements.

Document Everything! HR Alternative Consulting recommends against tape recording witness testimony because of the “chilling effect” it may have. Other experts say it’s appropriate in some circumstances. We choose to write appropriate detailed questions based on the current situation and take extensive detailed notes from each person interviewed.

Take Action. Once the investigation is concluded, the measures you take should be proportional to the findings, and suggest meting out the “maximum reasonable” penalty for wrongdoing. This will send a message to your workforce that you take discrimination, harassment and other violations seriously.

If you are looking for an objective and impartial investigator, please contact:

Ann Fisher, President
HR Alternative Consulting, Inc.
(317)852-3590
www.HRAlternativeConsulting.com

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