WSI Investigation Procedure Policy Statement It is the policy of WSI to create and maintain a work environment in which people are treated with dignity decenc by bfu21080


Hostile Work Environment Investigation document sample

More Info
									                              WSI Investigation Procedure

Policy Statement

It is the policy of WSI to create and maintain a work environment in which people are treated
with dignity, decency and respect. Employees should be able to work in a safe, yet stimulating
atmosphere. Federal and State laws require state agencies to take affirmative steps to establish
a safe workplace. Properly and promptly responding to allegations of harassment, violence, and
discrimination may provide an affirmative defense to an allegation of negligence. For that
reason, WSI will not tolerate unlawful discrimination or harassment of any kind.

Response to Complaints of Harassment, Violence and Discrimination

To limit potential liability, WSI will promptly respond to complaints of inappropriate workplace
behavior, including but not limited to, harassment, violence or threats of violence, and
discrimination. Further, such complaints will be handled through a formalized process.
Supervisors are not to attempt to resolve such issues alone but rather notify Human Resources to
address the situation.

The Complaint

Once a complaint is made, the first step is to ascertain as much information about the
allegations as possible. The person receiving or handling the complaint should ask the
employee making the complaint:

          What happened?
          When did it happen?
          Has it ever happened before?
          Has it happened to anyone else?
          Who was present when it happened (witnesses)?
          Have you talked with anyone about the incident(s)?
          To what extent was the behavior welcome or unwelcome?
          Was it conveyed to the alleged harasser that the behavior was unwelcome?
          Is there any other information you may have that would substantiate the allegation(s)?

                               Link: Complainant Intake Form

Additionally, have the complaining employee detail the allegations in writing. However, WSI will
not ignore its responsibility to investigate a complaint simply because an employee refuses to
put anything in writing or anonymous complaints.

The general tone of the initial contact with the complainant should reassure the employee that
the agency will take the complaint seriously and that the employee is to be commended for
coming forward.
In the initial meeting with the complaining employee the following should be discussed:

       WSI’s policy prohibiting retaliation and how to report it if they feel they have been
       retaliated against.
       The employee should also be instructed not to discuss the investigation with other
       employees until the investigation is complete.
       Assure the employee that WSI will try to proceed in as confidential a manner a possible,
       but cannot promise or guarantee confidentiality.
       Ask the complaining employee for input as to what should be done to remedy the
       problem. The employee should be told that, although his or her suggestions will be
       considered, WSI has an obligation to decide independently what corrective action should
       be taken.

Evaluating the Complaint

After obtaining an allegation, WSI will evaluate the information it has received to determine
whether to proceed with a formal workplace investigation. If the identified problems can be
quickly remedied without the need for a formal investigation, the inquiry will be sufficient.

Where the allegations are serious in nature, identify a complex problem, involve a number of
employees, or where the relevant facts are likely to be in dispute, WSI will proceed with a formal
investigation. In cases where the problem is quickly and informally resolved, the matter should
be documented with the complaining employee acknowledging that the problem has been

Additionally, WSI will evaluate a complaint to determine whether any interim action is necessary.
Interim action can include temporary job reassignment, allowing a complaining employee time
off, or suspending an accused offender pending completion of an investigation. Interim
measures, however, will be reviewed to make sure that the complaining employee is not
negatively impacted. For example, reassigning a complainant to a less desirable position may
be considered a form of retaliation.

Finally, the Investigator(s) will meet with WSI’s General Counsel to determine if the situation that
is being investigated is reportable to Risk Management. The determination will be documented
as to why or why not a Risk Management Incident Report was or was not filed.

In the event that the offending party is a vendor or contract employee; Risk Management should
be notified promptly.

Planning the Investigation

Once the decision to conduct a formal workplace investigation has been made, a plan will be
formulated concerning how to proceed with the investigation. The plan will identify:

           Who will be conducting the investigation
           What documents (e.g. personnel files) will be looked at
           Who will be interviewed
           The order in which people will be interviewed
           Standard information that each person will be told as part of the interview process
The Human Resource Manager or designee will conduct most WSI investigations. To ensure
that the Investigator(s) is neutral, objective and free from any perceived bias; each investigation
will be evaluated on a case by case basis to identify the Investigator(s).

In the event that the alleged offender is the CEO, investigations will be handled through WSI’s
Internal Audit Department. The Internal Audit Manager will ensure the results of the investigation
will be provided to the Board of Directors Audit Committee.

WSI may choose an individual from outside the organization to conduct an investigation at any
time to avoid the perception of the Investigator(s) being biased or constrained in their

The Investigation

Prior to conducting interviews a list of standardized questions will be prepared, to include a
standard opening and closing statement to be given at each interview. Use the following link to
access the Witness Interviewee Intro and Questions Form:

                       Link: Witness Interviewee Intro and Questions Form

Every person identified as potentially having information (lead) should be interviewed. At the
outset of each initial interview, the Investigator(s) should explain the purpose of the investigation
and what is expected of the employee. Each person interviewed should be told that although
WSI takes the allegations seriously, no conclusions have been made.

Each employee should be instructed not to discuss the investigation with other employees.
Lastly, WSI’s policy prohibiting retaliation and the consequences for employees that engage in
retaliatory conduct should be explained.

During the interviews, the Investigator(s) should start with broad standard questions, followed up
with more specific questions depending on the interviewee's response. Each person interviewed
should be asked to put things in chronological order or otherwise identify relevant time periods.
Each person giving pertinent information should be asked whether anyone else was present or
can otherwise substantiate the information.

At the conclusion of each interview, employees should be asked whether they have any
additional information regarding inappropriate workplace behavior. Each person interviewed
should be told that if they remember any other pertinent information they should contact the

Each person interviewed will be asked to summarize their knowledge of the events that lead up
to the investigation, sign the summary and submit it to the Investigator(s). Additionally, the
Investigator(s) will summarize each employee’s interview and the employee's responses. Once
the interview is summarized each employee interviewed will be required to sign the Interview
Statement Form.
                                 Link: Interview Statement Form

Throughout the investigation process, WSI will strive to balance the needs of ending offending
behavior with protecting the rights and reputation of both the complainant and the accused.
Excessive publication of the charges and information received during the investigation should be
avoided. Investigator(s) and other employees should refrain from discussing the charges and
related information outside of the context of the investigation. The allegations and information
obtained during the investigation should be maintained as confidential as possible within the
limitations of state and federal law (e.g. open records law).

Evaluating the Information

The Investigator(s) will evaluate the information to determine what facts are supported by the
investigation. The Investigator(s) will base their findings on competent information coming from
individuals' personal knowledge, not findings based on hearsay, innuendo and/or rumor.

Additionally, the Investigator(s) may need to make some credibility assessments to make factual
findings. Things to consider when assessing credibility:
        interviewee's demeanor
        was the interviewee's statements consistent
        was the interviewee's description of events consistent with the statements of others
        was the interviewee's description plausible or farfetched
        was the interviewee fully cooperative with the investigation process

The Investigator(s) will detail their findings and recommendations using the Investigation Report.
This report, once finalized, will be forwarded to upper management to make the final
determination on what corrective action to take.

                                   Link: Investigation Report

The Investigation Report

The investigation report outlines the findings and recommendations of the Investigator(s). The
report should be written in a manner which clearly and persuasively supports the ultimate
findings that were made. Additionally, the findings should not be written in legally conclusory
terms (e.g. "hostile work environment," "discriminatory," "sexual harassment"). Rather the
findings should be couched in terms of the specific unacceptable conduct at issue.

A draft version of the Investigation Report should be reviewed by WSI’s General Counsel before
the report is finalized. The General Counsel can help identify legal issues as well as help
determine whether certain facts meet certain legal standards. The General Counsel can also
help identify what forms of corrective action may be legally appropriate.

Taking Corrective Action

The final version of the Investigation Report is forwarded on to upper management. At that
time, upper management will determine what corrective action, if any, will be taken.

Corrective action can take the form of a simple memo to all employees reminding them that
certain conduct and discussions are inappropriate and will not be tolerated in the workplace or it
can go all the way to terminating one or more employees. What level of response is appropriate
necessarily depends on what conduct is involved, who is involved, and whether similar conduct
has occurred in the past.
The Investigator(s) will document the determination of upper management; specifically,
corrective action taken or no corrective action was necessary.

Questions to consider in determining what corrective action to take if inappropriate workplace
behavior is substantiated are:

          Was the incident an isolated incident or does it reflect a pattern of inappropriate

          Was the incident severe enough to objectively create a hostile work environment?

          Is the person that engaged in inappropriate workplace behavior a supervisory

          Has any supervisory employee failed to report known or suspected harassment?

          What were the prior relationships between the employees involved?

          Did the incident involve inappropriate physical touching? Verbal abuse or merely
          inappropriate discussions?

          Did the complaining employee in any way indicate that the behavior was welcomed?

          Were verbal comments made in a derogatory or hostile fashion or merely unintended
          offensive comment?

          Is there anything which would indicate that one or more members of a protected
          class were singled out for differential treatment?

Monitoring Corrective Action

The Human Resources department is responsible for monitoring the corrective action process.
A memo placed in the final investigation file will serve as documentation that the corrective
action has been completed.

The Final Investigation File

The final investigation report, all supporting notes and memorandum generated during the
investigation, and documents relevant to any corrective action taken, should be maintained in a
final workplace investigation file. This file is maintained separately from employee's personnel
file in the Human Resource Manager’s office.

To top