Conducting Employee Investigations

You will not personally witness every act of misconduct alleged to have been committed by your employees. Allegations of employee misconduct can come from a variety of sources. The two most likely sources of reports/complaints of misconduct are coworkers and the public. For example, one employee may report that she saw another employee shopping during work hours, or a member of the public may complain that an employee was rude. How you respond to complaints like these could make the difference between a prompt and effective resolution or expensive litigation. You will need to investigate these types of allegations to determine if they are true and, if so, what action to take.

The key to a successful investigation is to approach each complaint in an organized and consistent manner. Failing to act, or improperly investigating can greatly increase your legal risks. At a minimum, effective investigations demonstrate that you acted fairly and in good faith.

If there is an allegation of potential criminal actions, contact the County Counsel’s Office to discuss whether there should be a report to the District Attorney’s Office or other law enforcement agency.

In all other cases where there is an allegation of serious (but not criminal) misconduct, contact Employee & Labor Relations for assistance in planning the investigation. Please see Sample Interview Questions.

When you receive a complaint about alleged misconduct, you are expected to conduct a complete, timely, and unbiased investigation. The goal of the investigation is to gather information so you can decide how to respond appropriately to an employee’s complaint. Please use the following guidance to assist you in conducting investigations.