Fair Investigation

Did you conduct a thorough investigation of the facts and circumstances--including the employee's explanation and/or evidence--prior to administering discipline?

Seek information in a fair, objective, and nondiscriminatory manner. Do not passively wait for people to come forward and volunteer information.

Ask questions directly related to the situation.

Ask open ended questions. Require more response than "yes" or "no".

Do not accept the use of euphemisms, particularly in an investigation about allegations of sexual harassment. Responses need to be specific and explicit in nature to ascertain the facts.

The "employee's day in court" is a critical component of the investigation. The employee should be given an opportunity to hear the charges, understand the evidence, and present "the other side of the story" before discipline occurs. If the employee declines this opportunity, note it in your documentation of the investigation.

Immediate removal of an employee from the workplace may be required. In these instances, the employee is suspended pending the results of your investigation. This is done with the understanding that a final decision will be made after the investigation; and, if there is no case, the employee may receive pay for the lost time if the time away was without pay.