Choose the Right Investigators
A good internal investigations process requires planning, a lengthy list of open-ended questions, a detailed timeline, and strategic considerations about legal liability. Above all, however, it starts with a good investigator. According to the EEOC, a harassment reporting and investigation system “must ensure that investigators are well-trained, objective, and neutral, especially where investigators are internal company employees.”
What makes a well-trained, objective, and neutral investigator? According to the HR pros, an investigator should not be closely involved in the situation, have a reputation for credibility and vigilance, and possess investigative experience as well as the capacity “to serve as a company witness if necessary.” HR managers typically fulfill this role, although employers should look toward outside legal counsel during situations that involve executives or high-level personnel. Note that an external investigator cannot represent the employer in any ensuing litigation.
The HR pros recommend that employers appoint two investigators, if possible, “so that one person can take notes, while the other can focus on questions and follow-up inquiries.” Additionally, this second investigator “can also serve as a witness to confirm events or statements that occurred during the interviews.”