Harassment Complaints and Investigations
An employee is requesting copies of their harassment complaint and investigation files. How should I respond?
It depends. You can certainly share a copy of the original complaint with the person who filed it. You can also tell them about the general results and let them know whom they should speak to if the harassment continues.
You shouldn’t hand over investigation notes, witness statements, or other documentation. That information was shared with an expectation of confidentiality (at least whenever possible). Sharing would violate that trust and potentially deter employees from participating in future investigations. Likewise, the employee’s complaint shouldn’t be shared with anyone else. This, of course, includes the accused party. Aside from breaking confidence, it could lead to retaliation.
On a related note, since personnel files may have to be provided to employees upon request, it’s best to keep investigation files separate from personnel files. It’s reasonable to include a copy of the general results of an investigation in the personnel file, but don’t include any complaints, investigation notes, or witness statements.
Our HR Team members are experts in handling harassment claims and investigations and can walk you through the process. To learn how to get started, or for any additional assistance, just Ask Liv!