Why would an employer want to do an investigation? Investigations provide the employer with a 360-degree view of the situation so that the organization can take the best action based on the right information. Let’s say, for example, that Employee A makes a complaint against Employee B and the employer terminates Employee B without an investigation because the organization is an at-will employer. What could happen?
While at-will employers can terminate an employee for any reason, they can’t terminate an employee for an illegal reason. If Employee B complains that the employer took Employee A’s word without doing an investigation because Employee B is in a protected class and Employee A is not, how is the organization going to demonstrate that it did not discriminate in its decision to terminate Employee B?
Also, if an employee has at least four employees, in New Mexico, the employer would be covered under the Human Rights Act and Title VII would be a factor at fifteen employees. If the employer is covered under one or both of these laws, they should have their own policy that not only discusses non-discrimination but also discusses that claims will be investigated.
Additionally, while an employer may keep information confidential, employees often talk. If employees feel management may not conduct an impartial investigation, it may cause morale issues.
Workplace investigations are similar to investigating the scene of an accident. An accident at an intersection with witnesses at each corner has the possibility of resulting in four different witness perspectives. Then, the perspectives of the two people in the two different cars must be taken into account.
At Southwestern HR Consulting(SWHRC), we conduct thorough investigations for our clients who want to an outside review. This is especially important when employers either don’t have the personnel to do an investigation, the individuals who would do the investigation are too close to the situation, or when an employer wants to demonstrate that the investigation was conducted by an unbiased third party. We take the time to review a situation from all perspectives, capture those perspectives, draw applicable conclusions, and make appropriate recommendations. If you have a situation where you think an unbiased third party review would be beneficial, contact us at SWHRC today.
Written by | Magdalena Vigil-Tullar
HR Consultant | MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, CLRP