3 Considerations Before Starting

3 Considerations Before Starting an HR Investigation: Investigation Best Practices

Litigation is often preceded by an investigation and, in his latest post, Jim Gill of Hanzo provides 3 considerations before starting an HR investigation!

In the article (3 Considerations Before Starting an HR Investigation, available here), Jim discusses 3 considerations before starting an HR investigation (duh!). Here’s one of them:

Analyze the Complaint and Look at the Big Picture

Once the triggering event has occurred, HR investigators need to understand the seriousness of the accusations and take appropriate next steps. Not all HR complaints are the same, so taking a moment to evaluate the situation will lead to a quicker resolution in the long run.

When an employee makes a complaint to HR—either formally or informally—that complaint should be assessed as soon as possible. By acting right away, the employer can reduce the risk of potential liability and better protect its employees. Beyond that, certain employment laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA), require employers to investigate complaints within a specified timeframe.

At this stage, the focus should be on high-level issues, such as:

  • the nature of the complaint (for example, whether the employee is alleging discrimination, harassment, retaliation, or some other problem)
  • the names, titles, and physical working locations of the employees affected by the complaint, including those directly implicated, their supervisors, and any potential witnesses
  • whether the alleged conflict reflects an isolated incident or concerns an issue that is widespread or ongoing
  • whether the employer has any existing policies that might apply to the alleged conflict or any applicable complaint procedures
  • whether there is an immediate need to involve legal counsel or other advisers.

By thinking through these preliminary questions, the HR team will be able to estimate the amount of time, resources, and energy the investigation will require.


The individuals tasked with reviewing the complaint and making decisions related to the investigation must keep in mind that any complaint could potentially lead to a regulatory agency investigation or even a lawsuit. This mindset can help ensure that the investigation is carried out in a forensically sound and defensible manner.

Had the defendant done so in this case, maybe they could have avoided litigation altogether!

So, what are the other 2 considerations before starting an HR investigation? You’ll have to read his blog post here to find out! It’s just one more click! 😉 And please share any comments you might have or if you’d like to know more about a particular topic.

Disclosure: Hanzo is an Educational Partner and sponsor of eDiscovery Today

Disclaimer: The views represented herein are exclusively the views of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views held by my employer, my partners or my clients. eDiscovery Today is made available solely for educational purposes to provide general information about general eDiscovery principles and not to provide specific legal advice applicable to any particular circumstance. eDiscovery Today should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a lawyer you have retained and who has agreed to represent you.

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