Resources - Internal Investigations

Every employer can expect to face internal complaints for discrimination and harassment. Federal and California law require that you enact and enforce appropriate complaint procedures and then conduct timely and legally complete investigations when a complaint or report is made. Effective and timely investigations can aid in your defense to an employee lawsuit. Yet, Improperly conducted investigations breed claims for invasion of privacy, defamation, wrongful discharge and retaliation. In addition to privacy issues, your company is required to adopt and enforce a discrimination policy that is non-discriminatory. Any investigation that results in unequal treatment based on protected characteristics — gender, marital status, sexual orientation, race, religion, national origin, age, disability.

Courts will continue to scrutinize your responses to employee complaints, with an emphasis on the timeliness and quality of your investigation. The law requires your employer to take every complaint — formal or informal — seriously and conduct a proper investigation to determine the facts. Following a neutral fact-finding investigation, you are required to take immediate and appropriate corrective action, where required, and to avoid any form of retaliation against the complaining employee, the accused or co-workers who may be witnesses for either party.

This comprehensive manual for mangers and Human Resources specialists takes you step-by-step through the process of conducting and concluding a legally defensible investigation of any complaint. The manual also includes critical information on conducting misconduct investigations that may lead to discipline or discharge of an employee.