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How are workplace investigations handled?

If there is a complaint about corporate behaviour, bullying or any other inappropriate conduct in a workplace, employees can request the matter be investigated. While it's common for most businesses to have some kind of workplace investigation protocols in place, not every business has one.

As outlined in an article by the Canadian HR Reporter, companies will generally have an issue investigated by an external professional, such as lawyers or private investigators, or use their own internal human resources staff.

An investigation usually involves inquiries with potential witnesses, or individuals who may have insight into the matter. The article points out that the higher an investigation goes, the harder it may be to use internal HR due to the fact there could be conflicts of interest regarding sensitive or privileged information.

Companies are encouraged to make sure they have trained personnel to handle workplace investigations. Since they can be very delicate in nature, such as sexual harassment, there is a degree of professionalism, privacy and sensitivity that should be met.

Having protocols to handle reports of misconduct in the workplace may provide employees with a greater sense of protection and confidence to come forward if they find themselves in such a situation. It’s important to note that the courts may also award additional damages and costs for a plaintiff if they discover that a workplace poorly handled an investigation.

If you are an employee facing a human rights complaint and wish to know your options, it’s best advised that you consult with an experienced civil litigation lawyer to identify your legal rights. Similarly, if you are an employer, it would be prudent to do the same.

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