Conducting Investigations of Wrongful Workplace Conduct

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Roy A. Ginsburg, of Dorsey & Whitney LLP and the blog Quirky Employment Questions, penned an article in the May/June 2008 edition of Business Law Today: Conducting Investigations of Wrongful Workplace Conduct.

The first issue he tackles is whether employees are obligated to participate in a company investigation. He says the answer is yes.

That leads to the next question of whether you can fire the employee who refuses to participate. He says the answer is also yes.

Of course it is best to have a policy that clearly states that employees are are expected to participate in a company investigation and that refusing to participate is grounds for dismissal. (Check your policies.) Of course you do not need to jump directly to dismissal. You can suspend them, demote them or take other action. Again, it is best to have this in the policy.

Ginsburg ends the article with 10 general guidelines  for the investigative process:

  1. Define clearly the investigator’s role.
  2. Retain the right investigator.
  3. Act promptly.
  4. Conduct a thorough investigation.
  5. Do not promise complete confidentiality.
  6. Be nimble.
  7. Get help when needed.
  8. Respond proportionally.
  9. Respond consistently.
  10. Communicate the outcome when possible.

Yes, I realize this article is little old, but one of my reading stacks collapsed and this issue sprung to the top. I took it as a sign that I should read it.

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