Question from a client:
We received credible reports from several employees and witnesses concerning sexual harassment by a manager. I feel confident in proceeding with termination, but we have not interviewed the accused manager. Should we get “their side of the story” before terminating?
Yes, you’re on safer ground terminating the accused employee if you interview them as part of your investigation – and do the same for other employees accused of harassment. In this case, you might not learn anything that would change your mind about the termination, but it’s still a possibility. More importantly, if the terminated employee were to challenge your decision, you would be able to show that they weren’t treated any differently than other accused employees.
If you were to skip the interview with them, while typically interviewing other employees who have been accused of harassment or misconduct, they could claim that your decision in their case was discriminatory. A consistent practice protects you against discrimination claims, and since you’ll often need to talk to accused employees to get a full picture of what happened, it’s best to consistently interview all employees accused of wrongdoing.
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