INFORMATION AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
Stay Updated On EEO Regulations
According to the EEOC guidelines, “The employer should ensure that the individual who conducts the investigation will objectively gather and consider the relevant facts.” Objectivity is imperative to discrimination investigations, especially in harassment cases where witnesses must be asked proper questions and credibility must be weighed. Many employers and employees are concerned that internal personnel are too familiar with the employees and the complaint circumstances to be truly objective. This potential objectivity dilemma, whether actual or perceived by employees, the EEOC, or federal and state court judges, should never be applicable to independent consultants who report the facts.
The EEOC dictates that employers should ensure that “prompt, thorough, and impartial” investigations are conducted when complaints are made. Impartial investigations are more readily attained by independent consultants who do not have personal or professional relationships with the complainants, witnesses, and the accused. Further, an independent consultant does not have an interest in a favorable outcome, and is often perceived as detached and neutral by the employees and the EEOC. Internal personnel typically have many other duties that are extraneous to the exhaustive discrimination complaint process, and they simply need a third party consultant to conduct investigations. Many companies do not have qualified internal human resources or legal personnel to investigate alleged civil rights violations, and those that do are typically inundated with complaints. Outsourcing to competent consultants solves both problems.
The EEOC states, “Whoever conducts the investigation should be well-trained in the skills that are required for interviewing witnesses and evaluating credibility. “Many internal personnel may lack the necessary training and experience to adeptly investigate alleged civil rights violations or employee misconduct. Others are concerned about impartiality and objectivity. Very few from either category have the time to remain current on the continual changes in state and federal laws, which are essential to conducting quality investigations. Consequently, employers routinely outsource this specialized task to qualified consultants who conduct timely, thorough, impartial, objective, confidential, and competent investigations. Complainants may not use a complaint procedure perceived as biased, subjective , and administered solely by internal personnel. In supervisor harassment cases, complainants may even attempt to defeat the affirmative defense by establishing that the employer’s reporting procedure is defective. “Negligent investigation” is becoming an increasingly popular allegation in discrimination litigation, but it is much more difficult to prove if experienced, independent consultants conduct the investigations.