Employers have the duty to investigate complaints not only when they receive those complaints, but when they suspect bullying, harassment, or any other reason warranting an investigation.
Employers should draft clearly stated policies regarding workplace investigations of complaints and misconduct. Any investigations should begin promptly upon receiving a complaint or becoming aware of misconduct. Employers should have neutral parties available to conduct the workplace investigation and should provide any employees named as respondents an opportunity to respond to the specific allegations against them. The entire process should be documented and the results of the investigation should be communicated to the parties involved.
To ensure the fairness of the investigation process, Employers may wish to hire external investigators to address any complaints or allegations. These investigators are often lawyers who are able to provide legal analysis to the business concerning any liabilities that may exist as a result of the complaint.
When wrapping up the investigative process, it is also prudent to obtain legal advice concerning the facts of the investigation. Getting this information early can allow companies to pre-empt potential legal issues whilst maintaining orderly business operations.