Jim Gill, Hanzo: 3 Considerations Before Starting an HR Investigation


Extract from Jim Gill’s article “3 Considerations Before Starting an HR Investigation”

When looking at any process, there are often things to consider before step one, and HR investigations are no different. Here are three best practices your investigations team should follow once a triggering event has taken place but before the investigation has begun.

1. Analyze the Complaint and Look at the Big Picture 

Once the triggering event has occurred, HR investigators need to understand the seriousness of the accusations and take appropriate next steps. Not all HR complaints are the same, so taking a moment to evaluate the situation will lead to a quicker resolution in the long run.

When an employee makes a complaint to HR—either formally or informally—that complaint should be assessed as soon as possible. By acting right away, the employer can reduce the risk of potential liability and better protect its employees. Beyond that, certain employment laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), require employers to investigate complaints within a specified timeframe. 

At this stage, the focus should be on high-level issues, such as:

  • the nature of the complaint (for example, whether the employee is alleging discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or some other problem)
  • the names, titles, and physical working locations of the employees affected by the complaint, including those directly implicated, their supervisors, and any potential witnesses

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