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Effectively Managing Complaints Can Help Keep Your Organization Out of Court
In multinational companies, addressing complaints of employee misconduct or policy violation(s) are complex and involve different country customs, laws, and processes that must be understood and followed. If employees channel their reports of misconduct or policy violation(s) correctly within the company, this can help resolve many of these issues within the company and reduce the number of costly employment lawsuits. There are six-steps in this process that can help the human resources manager effectively enhance or refine the companies’ incident management program.
Step 1: The first step is to have an incident management program that includes a reporting process, a non-retaliation policy, and a policy to speak up if employees encounter misconduct or policy violations.
Step 2: The second step is to use a standard process to review and filter information to develop an initial response plan. Consider the following questions: severity (Are high-level employees involved? What is the potential impact on the victims?), complexity (Analyze the number and types of issues. Are there multiple areas of law and jurisdictions involved?), urgency (Is the safety of the employee or a witness a concern? Should the company call the police?), credibility (Is the source of the complaint known or not? Can the facts be easily verified), attorney-client privilege (Should this investigation be subject to attorney-client privilege?). These answers will help to determine your plan of action and the members of your investigation team.
Step 3: The third step is to form an investigation team. Depending on the issues, a representative may come from HR, legal, security, and compliance. The investigation team will determine the need for privilege, necessary steps to discover and preserve evidence, and the employee’s rights and obligations under foreign law. Identify key stakeholders such as general counsel and senior management for guidance, oversight, and further planning.
Step 4: The fourth step is to determine the procedures to follow. Each investigation is unique, and the facts and circumstances of the investigation will dictate the procedures to follow.
Conduct data and document review. Depending on the facts, you may need to consult with legal counsel before conducting data and document review.
Develop a fact pattern. Tell the story of who, what, where, when and how. As facts develop, you may need to consult with legal counsel.
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"Global Investigations: A Sis Step Process." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Dec 2019
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Conduct interviews. Develop and use good interviewing techniques. Have a plan to encourage cooperation and to address noncooperation.
Address the importance of the investigation, any restrictions, and the need for confidentiality. Confidentiality has its own restrictions and parameters to follow.
Understand fact patterns. Have you confirmed the allegations? Have you discovered other possible problems?
Create a written report of factual findings. Develop the fact pattern and report only factual findings. Report these facts to management.
Step 5: The fifth step involves management assessing the factual findings of the investigator and determine the appropriate action to take. Appropriate action could involve verbal or written warnings, suspension, demotion, termination, reassignment, or no action. Legal counsel should review the proposed action before implementation.
Step 6: And finally, the sixth step is to follow-up with the complainant. Make sure retaliation is not occurring. If retaliation occurs, speak with the potential victims and document your efforts to manage the retaliation. At the end of the process, inform the appropriate parties that the investigation has been concluded and that the company has responded appropriately to stop the misconduct or policy violation(s).