Employers face a significant amount of stress when an employee files a complaint. After all, if an employee claims they suffered harassment or discrimination, the company could face serious financial and legal consequences.
That is why employers must take immediate action to investigate the claims in the complaint. So, here are a few tips employers should consider when handling sensitive employee complaints.
Remember: Objectivity is essential
This is one of the most important things employers must remember.
It is easy to only see the threat that a complaint could pose to a business. However, understanding and complying with employees’ rights in these situations often helps to protect the business in the long run by preventing long-lasting legal issues or even litigation.
Therefore, employers should ensure they conduct an objective investigation dedicated to collecting the facts.
Act quickly, but strategically
Employers should outline an investigation plan long before they face a complaint in their employee handbook. That way, both employees and employers understand the process before a complaint ever arises.
Even so, it is critical to approach any investigation carefully. Consider the investigation process but customize it to the situation. For example, it is helpful to plan:
- How employers will gather and analyze information;
- What team members are in charge of the investigation; and
- What types of resources are necessary for the investigation.
It is important for employers to strategize how they will gather all of the facts promptly. Employers must address the complaint as soon as possible, but not rush the investigation.
It is not always possible to keep everything private while investigating a complaint. Investigations often require interviews with employees who witnessed or even participated in the incident detailed in the complaint.
However, employees have the right to confidentiality when they file a complaint. And employers must respect that as much as possible. Disregarding this could result in retaliation against that employee. This often only worsens the situation. It could increase the risk of the employee taking legal action.
That is why employers must approach complaints carefully, to ensure they protect both the employee as well as their business.