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The EEOC requires that employers receiving a complaint, or otherwise learning of alleged harassment in the workplace, to “investigate promptly and thoroughly…take immediate and appropriate corrective action by doing whatever is necessary to end the harassment, make the victim whole by restoring lost employment benefits or opportunities, and prevent the misconduct from recurring”. That’s a tall order to ensure a just and fair handling of a harassment complaint – an essential order that all organizations are required, by law, to follow. The investigation process is, perhaps, the most critical element in dealing with harassment. In cases that have gone to court it is often due to inadequate or absent investigations of complaints. Do you know how to conduct an investigation? This program will cover the intricacies of conducting a harassment investigation.


  • Course Outline:

     

  • Discussion about if and when an investigation is required
  • Comparison of a formal and informal investigation process
  • Planning for the investigation
  • Review of what constitutes a witness
  • Legal issues surrounding an investigation such as confidentiality, defamation of character, and false imprisonment
  • The importance of documentation of each interviewee
  • Examples of appropriate and inappropriate documentation and why it is critical
  • Specific details regarding how to corroborate evidence
  • List of criteria to determine credibility of those interviewed
  • He said/she said
  • The role of the investigator in forming an opinion following the investigation
  • How to follow-up with the target, accused, and the organization
  • The critical importance of an investigative report
  • List of misconduct triggers that are a catalyst for an investigation
  • Template final report.


The investigation is essential in determining the validity to a complaint of protected class harassment and bullying. Conducting a fair and impartial investigation diminishes liability, and can decrease further misconduct by preventing it from becoming pervasive. The investigation may serve to minimize damages paid to the complainant. The institution demonstrates its commitment to the prevention and intervention of the misconduct resulting in less harassment, discrimination and other forms on misconduct on campus. By conducting its own investigation, the institution may avoid an investigation by another agency such as the EEOC. An investigation is required to help ensure a safe and healthy organizational climate.

Anyone who conducts an investigation must be trained in how to do so. Merely having the experience of conducting investigations without having been taught the art and science of the process is not enough. When your organization ensures it is investigator is trained in how to conduct investigations, it demonstrates its commitment to prevention of harassment to the Court or outside agency.

The webinar addresses laws that HR is responsible for upholding. When the laws are not followed, it increases the liability for the organization and interferes with a fair and equitable work environment for employees.


  • To determine if an investigation is necessary
  • To discuss the steps of an investigation
  • To explore the intricacies of interviewing the accuser, accused and witnesses
  • To differentiate between a formal and informal investigative procedures
  • To determine credibility of all interviewees
  • To draw conclusions following an investigation
  • To list necessary elements in writing the formal report outlining the investigation.


  • Human Resources professionals – those tasked with investigations such as generalists, mangers, and directors
  • Attorneys
  • HR Consultants


Dr. Susan Strauss is a national and international speaker, trainer and consultant. Her specialty areas include management/leadership development, organization development, communication, and harassment and bullying. She is an expert witness for discrimination and harassment lawsuits. She trains and consults with business, education, healthcare, law, and government organizations from both the public and private sector. Dr. Strauss has authored over 30 book chapters, books, and articles in professional journals. She has been featured on 20/20, CBS Evening News, and other television and radio programs as well as interviewed for newspaper and journal articles. She has her doctorate in organizational leadership, is a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and human services, a master’s degree in community health, and professional certificate in training and development.

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