As an employee, you may be asked to participate in a work place investigation in one of three scenarios: as a target, as a complainant, or as a witness. In each instance, take special care to document your involvement either by emails to HR or memos to your self made immediately after the investigation. This means making sure that you are careful in your statements when verbally questioned. In some instances, you may be asked to prepare a written statement or sign a written statement prepared for you by HR. Even if you are not the target of the investigation, pay very close attention to the words and statements used by HR. If you are not the target, then why be so careful? Here’s why-1. As a victim/complainant, you want to be sure that your statement accurately and in great detail describes the situation that you have suffered. Even if you have also given a detailed verbal statement, make sure that your written statement is also detailed. Don’t let HR put words in your mouth.2. As a witness, carefully document your discussions with HR. It is against the law to be terminated for cooperating with a company investigation which then results in a retaliatory termination. While human resources may assure you that the investigation is completely confidential, there are instances where witnesses have been retaliated against by a supervisor for providing negative feedback even though that supervisor wasn’t the target of the investigation. Tread carefully and document your involvement.3. As the target, get a lawyer. This is especially important if you disagree with the grounds for the investigation and can prove your side of the story or believe that the investigation is motivated by some discriminatory intent. In this instance, do not go through this process without legal representation.
2020 Solo Small Firm Conference-NJSBA