The victim could also bring a case against the company if they feel further victimized by the process. HR may also find employees are wary of talking about anything they witnessed or experienced if they think what they say will become public information.
Byres suggests having the interviews in a discreet location, or offsite if there are no good spaces in the workplace.
Good notes can be the biggest advantage for an organization. Put typed statements together for any witnesses to sign off on so you can rely on that information in a hearing, which could be a year or more later.
“You need to make sure you have some integrity and can establish the process you went through. If the result is that you fired somebody you want to be able to demonstrate you had a fair investigation,” Byres said. “Keeping records of who you talked to and what your investigation entailed is all part of the evidence of a fair process.”
Take your time
Byres has seen too many cases where the investigator did a very quick investigation, often speaking to the accused last with their mind already made up about what happened.
“The person really doesn’t have a chance to address all the accusations or even understand the allegations against them,” she says. “I’m surprised how often it happens. There are lots of cases of large damages being awarded where the courts will say your evidence wasn’t strong enough and you didn’t even the accused the chance to respond.”