Workplace Investigations – Best Practices

1. Ensure Procedural Fairness

You need to ensure the investigation is fair to both sides and the findings unbiased. All parties involved must be aware of the allegations, all relevant evidence, and given every opportunity to defend themselves.

2. Select Investigators Carefully

Ensure the Investigator you choose will eliminate any appearance of bias or conflict of interest and may bring a fresh perspective. 

3. Don’t Delay

All complaints, whether formal or informal, must be treated seriously and acted upon in a timely manner. While some delay is reasonable, employers should be acting within 90 days of any concern. 

4. Follow All Internal Policies and Procedures Carefully

HR, employees and investigators must understand and ensure that investigative procedures are clearly stated and followed closely. 

5. Protect Against Bias or an Apprehension of Bias

The neutral investigator must have no connection to any of the parties and the employer must always ensure the investigation is unbiased. The employer must define the mandate and direction of the investigation in advance and in writing. 

6. Gather All Relevant Information

All relevant witnesses must be interviewed and all relevant documents provided. 

7. Guard Confidentiality and Privacy

Consider everything to be confidential.  Individually brief the parties and immediately address any possible disclosures. 

8. Document Investigation and Findings

Proper documentation is essential to ensure accurate evidence. Take notes to document witness and party interviews. 

9. Protect against Retaliation toward either the Complainant or Others

Ensure there is no retaliation, no matter how subtle, against complainants or anyone else co-operating with the investigation.

10. Advise of the Outcome/Take Remedial Steps

Inform both the complainant and respondent in writing and whether or not the allegations have been substantiated and, where appropriate what if any steps are being taken to avoid further complaints of this nature.