Event Archive

   

How to handle workplace investigations / complaints of harassment

A workplace investigation, especially one involving a complaint of harassment, can become complicated quickly. However, if one prepares properly and takes time to learn a few key concepts, the difficulties of an investigation can be mitigated.

In this information-packed seminar, Marie Davis, Esq. of the Landegger Baron law Group discussed the proper way to handle workplace investigations, as well as complaints of harassment.

Contact Info

Landegger Baron Law Group

Marie D. Davis, Esq.

marie@landeggeresq.com

115760 Ventura Blvd., Suite 1200
Encino, California 91436
(818) 986-7561

NOVATIME TECHNOLOGY, INC.

Scott Rose, Enterprise Sales

scott.rose@novatime.com

1440 Bridgegate Dr., Suite 300
Diamond Bar, California 91765
(909) 895-8100 ext. 152

Questions & Answers:

Q1

how to handle someone who said "He hurt my feeling"?

A1

Find out what was said, make a determination whether it is something you would consider harassment. If you believe it could be considered harassment, try to resolve it without an investigation first.

Q2

can we put a policy on the halloween costumes?

A2

Yes. Just like a regular dress code policy, you can dictate nothing revealing, noting sexual, nothing with foul language, etc.

Q3

For an employee who was terminated and filed a complaint and also requested for a severance (we did not provide one during termination), how should we handle the two matters separately?

A3

Yes, you can handle these two things separately with care. It would be highly advisable to contact an attorney. Make the timeline clear that termination happened prior the severance.

Q4

What to do when the harasser requests for a stress leave?

A4

Grant the stress leave and hand the employee and DWC-1 workers comp form.

Q5

Can you talk about unwanted recording devices during the investigative interview?

A5

It is not recommended to record the investigation at all. You do not want them to feel like they are in deposition, it should feel like a normal conversation. If you choose to do it, you MUST tell them, but I would still advise against it.

Q6

How do you instruct participants to keep confidentiality without violating NLRA rules?

A6

You cannot. You can only simply say, “we would appreciate if you kept this confidential.” Also, limit what information you provide to the witness.

Q7

please explain "cat's paw" not sure i understood.

A7

Cat’s is based off of an old fable. A monkey uses a cat to reach its hand into the fire to pull a chestnut out of the fire. The monkey convinces the cat to use his paw to get burned. Cat’s paw theory: when someone who does not have the authority to fire wants to get someone fired, they use management as their cat’s paw to get the person who they want fired, fired.

Q8

Can an employee be terminated for making a false claim? For example, they admit they made it up?

A8

Yes. But you want to be sure you have a lot of good evidence to support that the original complaint was false.

Q9

What to do when the harasser requests for a stress leave?

A9

Grant the stress leave and hand the employee and DWC-1 workers comp form.

Q10

did you say anyone interviewed should be notified of outcome?

A10

No, you do not need to discuss the findings of the investigation with witnesses. You can simply thank them and let them know the matter has been resolved, and to report back to you if they see anything else that is troubling.

Q11

Can you clarify when you talked about how an employee who is trying to avoid discipline by making some sort of complaint of their own (fall on purpose and goes out on stress-related leave), and then why we aren't able to discipline her when she returns to work? the audio cut out at that point.

A11

It will look like retaliation—even though you were planning on doing it before they went out on leave, if you right away suspend them when they return, it just will look like retaliation.

Q12

How do you handle the complainant if they falsely accuse someone?

A12

If you have clear evidence that the complaint was false, you can terminate the accuser—but remember, that can look like clear retaliation if you don’t have evidence. You can’t terminate someone because they made a complaint about being touched on the shoulder (and that doesn’t really rise to the level of harassment, because she might have truly believed it was)—but you can terminate if there was no touching at all.

Q13

Do we have to ask what the claimant is expecting out of this.

A13

It is a good idea to ask the complainant what they want to see happen. Because sometimes all they want is an apology, or to be moved to a different cubicle, etc.