Investigation / Suspension Tips

investigationsMany employers, especially larger companies and public agencies have formal rules and procedures, which they follow when one employee is accused by a co-worker or a manager of some kind of misconduct, such as harassment, violence or threats of violence, etc. These policies may or may not be included an the employee handbook.

Typically, the accused will be subject to suspension or administrative leave pending investigation.  This suspension or administrative leave may be paid or unpaid.  Then, the employer will either conduct their own investigation or will hire someone from the outside to conduct that investigation. The investigation will consist of interviewing the parties involved in the incident as well as any witnesses that have or might have knowledge of the relevant events.

One common mistake that the accused employees make, and understandably so, is letting their frustration over the accusations against them take over and react emotionally, especially when they feel that the accusation is false or exaggerated or fabricated. This translates into filing claims prematurely, sending angry e-mails or making angry phone calls to management or even confronting them in person and threatening them with violence or litigation. This, however, never helps the situation, and only increases the chances of being discipline further or being fired. Be assure that no one responds kindly to threats, mean e-mails, angry words, etc… regardless of whether you think they deserve it.

Whether you believe the accusations or have been suspended and are investigated for are true or not (few people ever do), and whether you believe that the investigation is conducted fairly or not – the best thing you should do is (1) to fully cooperate with the investigation, (2) answer any questions truthfully and openly, and (3) resist the urge to be angry to trash your managers or other employees. Be sure read important tips about answering questions during hr investigation.

Accusing others of conspiring against you (even if it’s true) or making other questionable accusations that are hard to believe is not going to help and it’s only going to make the employer or the investigator doubt your truthfulness. Instead, simply focus on helping the employer do what they are obligated to do, and then hopefully, if you haven’t done anything wrong, the investigation conclusions will be favorable to you. And if not – if the employer ends up concluding that the accusations against you are valid, still – being aggressive in the process wouldn’t do any good.

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