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How to Conduct an Internal Investigation

Author: Michael C. Jacobson, XpertHR Legal Editor

Employers may be legally obligated to conduct an internal investigation following the receipt of an employee complaint or becoming aware of certain workplace conditions like a hostile work environment or unlawful activity. An internal investigation can also be an effective tool for employers to proactively address allegations of mismanagement, misconduct, discrimination, harassment, or other prohibited activities ultimately reducing exposure to litigation and enforcement activity.

The results of an internal investigation are only useful if the investigation was organized and conducted properly. Selecting the right person to investigate, determining what questions to ask and what questions not to ask, documentation of the investigation, cooperation with in-house or external counsel and guidance as to how to act on the results of investigations once they are complete, are all essential considerations. The steps below will assist employers in properly conducting their internal investigations.