This is the final blog in a series on workplace investigations, an effective tool to uncover – and deal with – problems that threaten to undermine your business.
Once the investigator hands you, the employer, your workplace investigation report, you are obliged to take appropriate remedial action based on the findings.
There are three possible outcomes of a workplace investigation:
- Employer policy was violated, or some other misconduct occurred
- No violation occurred
- The evidence is too inconclusive to make a determination.
If the complaint has been substantiated, you’ll want to take disciplinary action. Make it commensurate with the seriousness of the infraction – up to and including termination of the person accused of wrongdoing – and also how you’ve handled similar problems in the past. The action you take should correspond with company policies and be applied consistently.
The final step is to follow up with employees and make sure you’ve solved the problem that led to the investigation.
- Has the misconduct stopped?
- If the wrongdoer was required, for example, to complete a training course on sexual harassment, you need to know whether he or she has met those requirements.
- Did the investigation reveal an internal workplace problem, such as confusion about company policies or lack of training on issues such as dealing with customers, you don’t want the misconduct to recur. So training or education of the entire workforce might be appropriate.
Accommodate any requests from the complainant for transfer, relocation or changes in the company’s reporting structure. On the other hand, if the complainant hasn’t asked for a transfer, don’t implement one unless it’s a transfer to a more desirable position or shift. If you transfer the complainant to a less desirable location or position, it may be seen as a retaliatory action.
Whether or not the complaint is substantiated, unsubstantiated or inconclusive, the complainant and the accused must be informed of the outcome.
- Explain to the complainant which allegations were substantiated, which were not, and where contradictory accounts appeared.
- Let the complainant know whether disciplinary action will be taken. However, you need not tell the complainant what form the disciplinary action will take.
- Encourage the complainant to come forward with any new allegations, or any concerns about retaliation.
- Also note that the matter will be investigated further if any new information comes to light that contradicts the investigation’s findings.
Whatever the decision, document the follow-up, and retain those documents. Remember that the report – and your follow-up – may become evidence if an employee grievance, human rights complaint or civil action is filed.
Workplace Investigations, Part I: The Basics
Yes, You Need a Workplace Investigation
How to Conduct a Neutral Investigation
How to Assess Credibility in Workplace Investigations
Writing a Proper Investigative Report
If you have questions or concerns about workplace investigations, contact Johnson Employment Law for guidance, 949-238-8044.