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Employment Law

How to fire someone fairly … and 8 tips for conducting investigations if you don’t
Employers can protect against employment lawsuits with good investigation records showing that all discipline is based on solid business-related reasons.

 But a workplace investigation is no country for amateurs. Attorney Ann Kotlarski lays out what a reasonable one looks like and reveals why you’d better put the very best people on cases holding even a germ of trouble.

Fumbling an investigation could land you in a multi-million dollar lawsuit. That’s why we created the HR Investigations Workshop. Join us Friday, January 25th for this “must-attend” webinar. It will show you what to do – and what to avoid – when conducting effective investigations.

 Learn more and register now.

Kotlarski’s eight principles of conducting an effective and legally safe investigation:

Plan ahead and be organized
Get a commitment from HR and management to put the employee and the investigation first
Be prompt at every step
Be thoroughBe fair
Be accurate and precise
Minimize intrusions from outside the process
Secure and store proper documentation

No. 3 bears special weight, as the most common complaint by employees about an investigation is that they weren’t kept up to date enough about its ongoing state.

Investigators need to focus, communicate and not be susceptible to delays. When a company has to explain in court that important steps weren’t executed in a timely manner, juries—who tend to “judge things from what they see on TV,” according to Kotlarski—often think someone was just trying to stall.

“The HR Investigations Workshop will teach you how to avoid such legally devastating mistakes and create investigation practices that can save the reputation of both you and the organization.

Register now for the January 25th webinar.

The subtleties of investigations have tripped up many a well-meaning organization, even ones that follow all the rules. Consider the following:

You can actually be too thorough. Over-interviewing can make an inquiry seem unfocused and confused if useless information is presented from parties on the periphery of the case.

Confidentiality is a promise you need to avoid making. “I’ll tell you this only if it’s kept between us” or “This is totally off the record” are statements you cannot accept. How can you keep something a total secret and investigate it thoroughly afterward?

Written statements are poor cousins to live testimony. They tend to be incomplete, and often raise new questions. A face to face interview is always preferable, and an interviewer who shows up with a pre-printed form to conduct one falls into the trap of feeling overly satisfied just because all the checkboxes get ticked off.

An absent complainant seems like a wronged one. Juries often automatically think of suspensions and even paid administrative leave as punitive measures. You’ll have to convince them why they weren’t.

Kotlarski provides a tip for ending a fact-finding interview. Remember that people like to be asked for their opinion and feel part of the process, so try closing with, “If you were me, where would you turn next?” You might even ask, “What would you like to see happen here?” The goal is to keep that investigatory roadmap growing outward so the truth is wholly uncovered—while your own opinions, biases and emotions are left in the dust.

Join us on Friday, January 25th for this webinar packed with tips and strategies to handle any workplace problem quickly and legally. You’ll learn how to conduct investigations that achieve all of your goals — and will stand up in court.

 In just 75 minutes, you’ll receive a step-by-step game plan to handle your next investigation in the most expert way possible. You’ll learn:
How to select the right investigator

How to proactively plan and organize each phase of the investigation
How to avoid the most common investigation mistakes
Best-practice tips for interviewing witnesses so you get the whole story — and the truth
The do’s and don’ts of documenting a workplace investigation

Plus, ask YOUR questions about the structure, process and follow-through of workplace investigations. Register today!

Register for the HR Investigations Workshop now.


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