What is the supervisor’s responsibility in the area of employee investigations?

Receive the Complaint

Explain procedures. Tell the complainant that the matter will be promptly investigated and explain your procedures for investigation. Mention that someone else may interview the employee later to obtain additional information. Advise him/her that there will be no retaliation for coming forward with a complaint made in good faith and tell him/her to report any perceived retaliation immediately.

Discuss confidentiality. It is important not to promise confidentiality. But explain that the investigation will be handled as discreetly as possible, and information will be disclosed only on a “need to know” basis.

Written complaint. Have the employee write out the complaint. The complaint should be written out before you begin the investigation because the employee’s description of the problem will determine how you proceed with the investigation.

Employee’s own words. It is best to have the employee explain the problem in his/her own words. You want the employee’s best recollection of the facts, not what other people remember. For this reason, ask the employee to fill out the complaint form at work (in a private office if possible), rather than taking it home.

Review written complaint. After the employee has written out the complaint, go over it with the employee. Make sure you understand the problem. Verify orally that the information on the form is complete and accurate. Also make sure the employee has signed and dated the complaint.

Plan the Investigation

The first step in conducting any investigation is to develop a plan. Who do you need to interview? What questions will you ask the complainant, the witnesses, and the alleged perpetrator? In what order should you conduct the interviews? What documents do you need to review? All of these questions should be answered before starting the actual investigation. It is strongly recommended that consult with your manager and Employee & Labor Relations prior to beginning the investigation, or in cases of alleged discrimination, harassment or sexual harassment, you will want to contact the County’s Equal Employment Opportunity Manager at 363-4340.

The supervisor is responsible for recording the allegation in as factual and complete a manner as possible, asking the source of the allegation such questions as:

  • What occurred?
  • Who was involved?
  • When did it happen (time/date)?
  • Where exactly did it take place?
  • Were there any possible witnesses (oversee and/or overhear) to the event?
  • Any other details pertinent to the complainant’s observation of the event.