Be Prepared! Everything You Need To Know About Sexual Harassment Claim Investigations
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On behalf of Rager Law Firm posted on June 23, 2018
The idea of having your sexual harassment claim investigated by some overly suspicious and potentially biased person may seem a little disheartening and intimidating, as most workers in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California have no clue about how harassment claims are investigated by their employer’s Human Resources department.
You never know how the investigation will unfold, as there is always a chance that your story will not be believed, you will be ridiculed for describing what happened, and the HR department will cover up for the predator, harasser, abuser, or groper to save the company’s face.
The first step is selecting the investigator, who can be either someone from the company’s in-house Human Resources or a private investigator hired from an independent firm. More often than not, employers take the first route.
Each investigator assigned to review a sexual harassment claim must be properly trained to do his or her job. In addition to that, this person should have experience in investigating similar claims and not be biased (which can never be ruled out given that this investigator is employed by the company run by the alleged perpetrator or company that hired the alleged perpetrator).
“Keep in mind that when investigating sexual harassment claims filed with the HR department, investigators that work for the company will attempt to limit the liability of the company,” warns our experienced sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles.
Another thing to keep in mind is that the investigator’s experience and training can always be examined or even challenged by your attorney if the case goes to trial.
Investigation must not be biased
The second rule of investigating sexual harassment claims is ensuring that the investigator is not biased and both the accuser and accused are treated equally regardless of their position of the company.
More often than not, in-house investigators may be under the influence or supervisory control from the accused party, especially if that party is the employer or anyone else with high authority in the company.
Asking questions as part of the investigation
No investigation into sexual harassment claims can be considered “conclusive” if it does not include interviewing the harassed party (claimant) and the alleged harasser.
Sexual harassment claims investigators in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California are trained to ask the right questions, and many victims may not be prepared for all of them. Our best sexual harassment attorneys in California have outlined some of the most common questions asked during a sexual harassment investigation (to find out more, contact the Rager Law Offices for a free consultation):
How, when, where, and why the alleged sexual harassment occurred? Who committed the act of sexual misconduct in the workplace? What exactly happened? Is it still ongoing? How often has it occurred?
What was your response or reaction after the alleged act? Did you make it unambiguously clear that the harasser should stop or that you are not interested in his or her sexual advances?
How did the alleged act affect you and your job?
Are there any witnesses who may have relevant information about what happened? Did you tell anyone about it?
Did the accused party harass anyone else besides you? Are you aware of any complaints from other people in the company against your harasser?
Is there any physical evidence that can prove the alleged act of sexual harassment at work, including but not limited to video footage, emails, notes, posters, etc.?
How would you like to resolve the situation?
Additionally, the investigator will interview the alleged harasser and any potential witnesses or anyone who has any relevant information about the case.
Credibility assessments and conclusion
The final two steps in every sexual harassment investigation are to (1) make credibility assessments to determine such factors as inherent plausibility, demeanor, the motive to falsify, corroboration, and past record, and (2) draw conclusions from everything that has been written, said, and discovered during the investigation.