How is an independent investigation conducted?
If you decide to hire an independent investigator to evaluate complaints, that person will not be your lawyer. To maintain the impartiality of the investigation, the independent investigator needs to be given access to the complaint and the relevant documents, and then be permitted to interview the complainant, the alleged harasser, and other witnesses identified by the company, the complainant and the alleged harasser. The value of an independent investigation depends on the reliability of the process, which includes in large part the access to information.
Who Controls the Investigation?
To uphold the integrity of the process, no one —not the employer or the complainant — can direct the process. Confidentiality is an important concern, especially before all witnesses have nbeen interviewed. Periodic updates on the process, as opposed to findings or specifics of the facts, are appropriate, however. Both the complainant and the alleged harasser will be preoccupied and eager for a resolution. Sharing a predicted timetable for resolution is only fair; confiding details of witness statements interferes with the effort to find the truth.
How Does an Investigation End?
The investigation will conclude with a written report. The employer is responsible for determining the response to the findings, though that investigator, if requested, may make recommendations. The employer should advise both the complainant and the respondent of the outcome; in some circumstances a wider dissemination of information is warranted.