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Conducting an Investigation

Whether you are talking with the employee who is bringing the complaint, the alleged victim (if it’s a different person), the accused harasser(s), or other witnesses:

  • Assure the employee that your company will treat the incident seriously and will investigate thoroughly and objectively.
  • Encourage the employee to submit a written complaint.
  • Listen to the employee honestly and fully.
  • Allow the employee to say all that he or she needs to say, even if this is venting, angry, loud, or emotional. Telling an employee to “calm down” or “relax” might prevent important information from being shared.
  • Try not to interrupt with questions. Let the employee get out the whole story before you ask for details.
  • Be neutral. Don’t let your opinion of the employee (as a person, as a worker) color the facts.
  • Have a silent witness in the room that will take notes and confirm that the notes were accurate. Recording an interview may helpful to the investigation, but it may not be appropriate or legal. Your company’s policy will dictate this.
  • Recap the interview, checking key facts and timelines with the employee being interviewed. Don’t judge; just make sure you’ve accurately recorded his or her side of the story.
  • Assure the employee that the investigation will proceed in a timely fashion and follow up on the results.
  • Protect the complaining party from retaliation and remind him/her regarding your company's non-retaliation policy.