and the female distributor employee might have to interact in the future (e.g., the upcoming site visit).
Regardless of whether the complaint comes from inter-
nal conduct and/or external third-party conduct, there are
key points for any investigation of this nature (not neces-
sarily limited to claims or incidents of sexual harassment
but any improper conduct) that distributors, as employers,
should always keep in mind:
• Interview the complaining employee or other key wit-
nesses. Obtain all pertinent details, including the identity
of other (potential) witnesses, and what other documents
or information would be corroborative (or not) of the
• Advise complaining employees that any information
will be, to the extent possible, maintained as confidential, but all persons in any investigation, including the
complaining person, must understand that there are no
guarantees of confidentiality.
• Once the complaining employee and/or other key witness have been interviewed, he or she should “sign-off” on
a detailed account of the facts as provided, preferably in a
statement prepared by the employee or at least reviewed
by her (or him), with each page initialed and the last page
• Review other corroborating information or documents.
Any witnesses should be advised not to have contact (or
if they are going to have contact, to avoid discussing
the matter) with any employee accused or suspected of
misconduct or with others who might have witnessed the
incident. Witnesses should also be advised that there will
be no retaliation of any nature for cooperating and/or reporting workplace problems in good faith, including those
that take place out of the technical work space.
• Interview the accused employee suspected of misconduct. To the extent a third-party employee, efforts should
be made, once all other avenues of investigation are complete, to not only “paper” the distributors’ position (e.g.,
we had no idea Jim was capable of doing such a thing, but
here is what we have determined happened...).
• Analyze and investigate the matter to conclusion and
determine the proper remedy. Resolve if possible any loose
ends and document if that is not possible and why.
• As with all employment actions (adverse or otherwise), document, document, document – and that goes
for the investigation as well. Remember that such documents are discoverable in litigation, so care should be
taken in preparing these documents.
• Ensure that the victim and/or complainant is fully apprised as to what action is being taken to prevent future
occurrences, make sure that he or she is advised to immediately report any future occurrences, and agree upon
at least two neutrals to whom the complainant should
report any further incidents.
• Ensure that the investigation remains as confidential
as possible, with only those who need to know apprised
of the situation, and that each person involved is advised
that no retaliation will take place.
For distributors who would like more information
concerning workplace investigations, including workplace
misconduct and/or third-party claims of sexual or other
harassment, feel free to contact me at 312-840-7004 and/
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