• Apr 09, 2024
  • Wrongful Termination

Employee Rights During HR Investigation

Employee Rights During HR Investigation

During an HR workplace investigation, employees have several rights and protections to ensure fairness and legal protections.

  1. Right to Confidentiality: Human Resources Department workplace investigations should be conducted with confidentiality to protect the privacy of all parties involved. Information gathered during the investigation should be kept confidential and should only be shared with individuals who have a legitimate need to know.
  2. Right to Be Informed: Employees have the right to be informed about the nature of the investigation, including the allegations or complaints being made against them and the purpose of the investigation.
  3. Right to Representation: In many cases, employees have the right to have a representative present during HR investigations. This could be an experienced employment lawyer, another type of legal representation chosen by the employee to provide support and assistance.
  4. Right to Provide Information: Employees have the right to provide their side of the story and present relevant information or evidence in the internal investigation. This may include witness statements, relevant documents, emails, or other evidence that supports their position.
  5. Right to Non-Retaliation: Employees have the right to be protected from retaliation for participating in an internal workplace investigation or cooperating with investigators. Employers are prohibited from taking negative employment action against employees for engaging in protected activities related to the investigation.
  6. Right to Due Process: Employees have the right to a fair and impartial workplace investigation conducted in accordance with company policies and procedures. This includes the right to be treated with respect, the right to a prompt investigation, and the right to have their concerns taken seriously.
  7. Right to Appeal: If the outcome of the investigation results in disciplinary action or other adverse consequences for the employee, they typically have the right to appeal the decision through the company’s grievance procedure or other applicable process.
  8. Right to Privacy: Employees have the right to privacy during the investigation process. Investigators should only ask questions that are relevant to the investigation and should not inquire about personal or sensitive information that is unrelated to the allegations.
  9. Right to Accommodations: Employees with disabilities or other special needs have the right to request reasonable accommodations during the investigation process to ensure their full participation and access to the investigation.

It’s important for employees to familiarize themselves with their rights during HR workplace investigations and to assert those rights to ensure a fair and transparent process. If employees have concerns about their rights under employment law, the workplace violation being investigated, or the the investigation team, they may want to seek legal counsel.

HR Investigation Process

During an HR investigation process, employees involved can expect to have various experiences, but the following should be non-negotiable.

  1. Confidentiality: Employees can expect that the investigation will be conducted with confidentiality to protect their privacy and the integrity of the process.
  2. Fair and Impartial Process: Employees can expect that the investigation will be conducted in a fair, thorough, and impartial manner, free from bias or conflicts of interest. Investigators should gather evidence objectively, interview witnesses neutrally, and assess allegations based on the facts and evidence presented.
  3. Opportunity to Provide Information: Employees involved in the investigation have the right to provide their side of the story and present relevant information or evidence to the investigator.
  4. Respectful Treatment: Employees can expect to be treated with respect and professionalism throughout the investigation process.
  5. Timely Updates: Employees may expect timely updates and communication from HR regarding the status of the investigation, including any delays, scheduling conflicts, or changes to the timeline.
  6. Protection Against Retaliation: Employees have the right to be protected from retaliation for participating in the investigation or providing information to investigators.
  7. Resolution of Complaint: Depending on the outcome of the investigation, employees involved may expect various potential outcomes, including:
    • Substantiated Allegations: If the investigation substantiates any allegations, employees may expect appropriate corrective action to be taken, such as disciplinary measures, training, policy changes, or other remedial actions.
    • Unsubstantiated Allegations: If the investigation does not substantiate the allegations, employees may expect the matter to be resolved with no further action taken.
    • Ongoing Monitoring: In some cases, HR may implement ongoing monitoring or follow-up measures to ensure compliance with any corrective actions or to prevent future issues from arising.
  8. Feedback and Closure: Employees may expect to receive feedback and closure regarding the investigation, including information about the findings, any corrective actions taken, and any steps moving forward.

What To Do If HR Is Investigating You

If you find yourself being investigated by HR, it’s important to handle the situation with professionalism, cooperation, and integrity.

  1. Stay Calm and Composed: It’s natural to feel anxious or concerned when you learn that you’re under investigation, but try to avoid reacting defensively or confrontationally, as it can escalate the situation and potentially harm your case.
  2. Understand the Allegations: Seek clarification from HR regarding the nature and specifics of the allegations or concerns being investigated. Make sure you understand exactly what you’re being accused of and its ramifications.
  3. Review Company Policies: Familiarize yourself with your company’s policies, and procedures relevant to the allegations. Understanding the rules and expectations can help you assess whether your actions may have violated company policy or ethical standards.
  4. Cooperate with the Investigation: Cooperate fully with the investigation process and provide honest answers and accurate information to HR. Be prepared to participate in interviews, provide documentation or evidence, and answer questions to the best of your ability.
  5. Seek Legal Advice if Needed: If the allegations are serious or if you’re unsure about your rights or legal obligations, consider seeking advice from an experienced employment attorney. An attorney can provide guidance on how to navigate the investigation process and protect your rights.
  6. Maintain Confidentiality: Respect the confidentiality of the investigation and avoid discussing the details or status of the investigation with coworkers or other parties outside of HR. Breaching confidentiality could compromise the integrity of the investigation and potentially harm your case.
  7. Document Your Actions: Keep a record of your interactions with HR, including any meetings, interviews, or communications related to the investigation. Take notes on what was discussed, who was present, and any key points or concerns raised.
  8. Remain Professional: Regardless of the outcome of the investigation, maintain a professional demeanor and continue to perform your job duties to the best of your ability. Avoid engaging in behavior that could be perceived as retaliatory or disruptive.
  9. Prepare for Possible Outcomes: Consider the potential outcomes of the investigation and how you will respond to each scenario. Be prepared to accept responsibility if the allegations are substantiated and to cooperate with any disciplinary measures or corrective actions imposed by HR.

Workplace Investigation FAQ

what not to say in an hr investigation: Try not to talk too much during the investigation, like telling a witness what another witness said or revealing your personal opinion on the matter. Try to matter-of-factly answer the questions asked of you.

who do you complain to when hr is the problem? It still may be wise to file a complaint against HR with your HR department, just so there is a record. After that, you may seek further help from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

what happens when you complain to hr about your manager? Typically, HR should conduct an internal investigation into your manager’s actions or workplace operations to see if there has been unfair treatment or any violations of the employee handbook, for example. After the internal workplace investigation, there will be a decision as to how the manager’s behavior is handled.

how long does hr have to investigate a complaint? Under California law, there isn’t a specific timeframe for how long an HR investigation can take. However, investigations should be conducted promptly A claim not investigated within three months would be concerning.

what to do if hr is investigating you? Employees have legal rights in the workplace. If you feel HR is harassing you, you may reach out to the EEOC, a union representative (if applicable), or speak to a wrongful termination or employment lawyer to explore your rights.

do i have the right to see a complaint made against me? Regardless of an employment contract or collective bargaining agreement, you should be given access to any complaint or information that is being used against you during a workplace investigation.

how to write a statement for work investigation? A written statement should be typed and should stick to the facts of what happened. Try not to insert your opinions. Be descriptive and detailed when discussing the workplace issue.

can i bring a lawyer to an hr meeting? Each situation is different. It is best to reach out to the attorneys at Lawyers for Justice, PC to see what legal advice they can provide in your specific circumstance.


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