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Who Should Conduct An Employee Investigation?

Wednesday, June 14th, 2023

Hi, I’m Allison Davis. I’m a member of Brown & Fortunato’s employment law team, and I’m board certified in Labor and Employment Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. As part of my practice, I work with employers on a myriad of employment law issues, including conducting and advising employers on employee investigations. When an employee complains of harassment, discrimination, or retaliation, or reports serious misconduct, the employer should conduct an investigation. And it’s important to move quickly to timely investigate these types of actions and where appropriate take remedial action. But employers should be thoughtful in their approach and make a plan for the investigation prior to jumping in. Consider who should conduct the investigation.

Does the company have seasoned HR staff with experience in employee investigations? Does the company have general counsel who can conduct the investigation? Or should the company work with outside counsel? In any of these scenarios, it’s important for the investigator to be qualified, unbiased, and suitable for the particular investigation, given the allegations and parties involved. 

In addition to choosing an appropriate investigator, it’s important for employers to consider the proper scope of the investigation. 

  • Who has knowledge of the allegations? 
  • Which employees should be interviewed? And are there employees at more than one company location who will need to be interviewed? 
  • And don’t forget to consider the logistics. 
  • Who should you interview first? 
  • When are employees available for interviews? 
  • Where will the interviews be held? 
  • Who will lead the interview and who will take notes?

The investigator should prepare for employee interviews, but be ready to address additional issues as they arise. Don’t ignore new information received in the course of an investigation, and don’t forget to ask follow-up questions.

When all of the employee interviews have been concluded, the investigators should review the interview notes and think about next steps. Consider drafting a report of investigation, reach a conclusion, and cite support for that conclusion. 

  • Ask whether additional action is warranted. 
  • Should any employee be disciplined? 
  • Should the employer revise or reissue an important company policy? 
  • Should the company offer additional training? 

The answer to these questions will likely be different for each employee investigation, but it’s important to consider the key issues in advance to plan and prepare for a thorough, unbiased investigation.

Whether you’re looking for guidance in conducting an internal employee investigation or need an outside investigator, Brown & Fortunato’s Employment Team has the experience to assist you.