Who Should Conduct an Internal Investigation of Harassment: Considerations
Business owners often wonder who should conduct internal investigations of harassment. Here are some considerations:
1) Management. A direct supervisor may be less likely to be impartial. If a manager is chosen outside the direct line of supervision, that person should be of higher rank than the accused. A person the same rank may appear biased.
2) Attorney. The corporate attorney is often chosen because the company can invoke the attorney-client privilege. An attorney investigator will usually be outside the line of supervision of the accused and is often familar with laws and company policies. A corporate attorney, however, may also appear biased in certain situations.
3) Human Resource Department. A human resource manager is often outside the chain of supervision and familar with applicable laws and company policies. This person may also be trained in investigation techniques. In certain situations, however, this person may appear biased.
Outside investigators may be necessary to ensure independence and also may have the necessary training and experience to conduct such an investigation. If you have a small business, an outside investigator may be critically important in order to avoid the perception of bias. You must make sure the outside investigator becomes familar with your company policies.