The following guide walks you through performing an investigation when faced with a harassment claim in the workplace. From how to begin each interview to what to say in the closing of each interview; this will help to ensure consistency from management, and adequate documentation should any incident be taken to a court of law.
Interviewing the Complainant
When an allegation is reported, it’s important to investigate thoroughly and ensure a complete review and investigation.
There are many reasons why complainants may have a hard time coming forward, so it’s important to address concerns, maintain confidentiality, take steps to protect them from alleged harassers, and refrain from pressuring the employee.
Complainants may be concerned about retaliation from the organization for reporting. Assure complainants that your organization will take their complaints seriously. Your employees should feel safe coming to you in any situation, and should not fear any consequences for doing so. Your employees should feel safe coming to you in any situation, and should not fear any consequences for doing so.
Keep an eye on the emotional state of your interviewees. Don’t push for details if they’re getting upset. It’s okay to postpone the rest of the interview to another time if needed.
Interviewing the Alleged Harasser
Make sure to set aside plenty of time so that no one feels rushed. Listen closely and give interviewees your full attention. Don’t be harsh in an attempt to get the interviewee to confess. Stay respectful and wait until they are done talking and need prompting to continue before asking your next question.
Modify your questions to fit the flow of the conversation and, just as you’ve done with the complainant, keep an eye on the emotional state of the alleged harasser and postpone the rest of the interview to another time if needed.
Provide a Confidentiality Closing Statement
It’s important all interviewees involved in any harassment claim in the workplace are aware of the importance of confidentiality. Below is an example of an appropriate closing statement when wrapping up your interview:
“I/we would like to take another opportunity to stress with you the importance of protecting the integrity of this investigation. Please keep everything we have discussed in this conversation confidential as well as the fact that you have been asked to participate in this investigation. You are not the only person I /we am/are interviewing, and I/we would not want their statements to be influenced by what we have discussed. If you need to contact us with additional information or have questions about this investigation, please contact [NAME(S)].”
It is important to understand that while this guide can assist in any and all types of allegations, you should have a human resources team on your side to handle these situations appropriately. MOTiiV offers human resource management for your business, with a team available to assist remotely or on-site. Our HR team will ensure that your situation is handled according to law and will ensure your business’ compliance should a situation require any court proceedings.