What HR Won't Tell You: Employee Complaint Investigations

What You Don't Know Could Hurt You After All

You may be surprised at how many other employees make complaints to HR.
You may be surprised at how many other employees make complaints to HR. | Source

Workplace Investigations: Observations From An HR Insider

If you're an employee who is thinking about filing a complaint with your HR department or corporate compliance hotline, you may not have a practical understanding of what goes on behind the scenes, especially if you are new to filing an internal complaint.

While all companies have different processes for managing complaints, here is a list of 23 observations from a former corporate HR Investigator.

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Numbers, Numbers

1. You're in our database now

If you are assigned a case number, your complaint was probably entered into a computer database. The company tracks case details such as name, job title, and contact information for the complainant, Person Complained About (PCA), and any named witnesses.

Additionally, the computer record captures a summary of the allegations you made. It can be pulled up years later. Who can access it now? Well, plenty of interested parties.

Your case may be shared with a number of key players who "need to know."
Your case may be shared with a number of key players who "need to know." | Source

2. Too many people may be in the loop

You trust HR to share your complaint with key personnel on only a "need-to-know" basis. But here's the kicker: because executives desperately want to know about compliance and people issues that affect their department, this "need to know" list can become quite extensive.

Too many people may be in the loop when HR is unable to effectively push back against unnecessary requests from nosy executives. Depending on the nature of your complaint and the politics in your organization, the distribution list can include a long list. This includes executives both inside your department and out, plus employees in the Law department, personnel in Audit, Finance, IT, Security, Compliance, and multiple layers of HR. That's a lot of inquiring minds crawling all up in your confidential business!

Secret Keeper or Something Else?

HR is often shrouded in secrecy.
HR is often shrouded in secrecy. | Source

3. You're not alone

If only you knew how many complaints mirror your own! The truth is: you're probably not alone, although it can sure feel that way.

HR tracks, counts, and reports on complaint data, and they typically use a labeling scheme to code allegations (e.g., theft, sexual harassment). This permits data analysis on large numbers of complaints. For example, the company may look at trends in the number and types of discrimination cases for this year versus previous years.

Of course, how HR codes your case is important. Hopefully, you were very clear about what issue prompted your complaint. Why is that important?

Other employees may share your problem, but you just don't know it.
Other employees may share your problem, but you just don't know it. | Source

4. Sometimes codes are changed to fit a political purpose

In the face of significant pressure from top executives, sometimes HR management re-codes "borderline" cases, so the numbers don't look quite as bad. For example, an allegation of discrimination might become a generic management conduct issue. This is such an ethically slippery slope! And it's how systemic problems are swept under the rug.

5. Staying anonymous is hard (if not impossible)

If you make an anonymous complaint, a good HR Investigator can often logically deduce who you are. That's simply good detective work!

Staying anonymous is nearly impossible.
Staying anonymous is nearly impossible. | Source

Sharing, Caring, and Competence

6. Data security may be lacking

HR may routinely email detailed investigation reports to one another or executives that are not password protected and are unencrypted. That's your information they're handling sloppily.

HR employees may accidentally leave materials on copying machines and printers or displayed on computer screens when they leave their desks "for just a moment." The investigator might even take your case file home. File materials may contain information that is not only personally identifying but also very sensitive, putting you at risk in more than one way.

Your Case File is Here Somewhere ...

Your information may be safe with HR ... or not.  If HR works in open officespaces, there may be many opportunities for passersby to overhear   conversations about you or to see your personal data.  That hardly feels confidential now, does it?
Your information may be safe with HR ... or not. If HR works in open officespaces, there may be many opportunities for passersby to overhear conversations about you or to see your personal data. That hardly feels confidential now, does it? | Source

7. Yep, executives ARE treated differently

You suspected this was true. Executives and other special people are often treated differently than you. Their investigations are often faster, more discreet and informal.

When they misbehave, their consequences are typically less severe and poorly documented. When serious misbehavior is substantiated, they may have a broader range of face-saving options (e.g., early retirement, a mutual resignation agreement). Sadly, instead of holding them to higher standards, HR representatives often do the opposite.

8. You're being talked about

Your case may be discussed in internal HR team meetings or special meetings with Law, Audit, Compliance, Executives, or others. It's not a gossip session; it's a business meeting about your case. There can be a discussion about the facts of your case, findings, and recommended action steps.

Although your case is being discussed, it's business, not gossip.
Although your case is being discussed, it's business, not gossip. | Source

9. You could have a lousy investigator

Your investigator may be

  • poorly trained or inexperienced
  • may have a performance issue himself or
  • suffer HR issues of his or her own.

Some companies rotate their HR employees through various HR sub-specialties (e.g., Benefits, Training), and you may have been assigned the new investigator who doesn't know EEO law or company policy very well.

If you don't seem to be getting good service, find out more about the investigator in a low-profile, respectful manner. Also, be sure to document your communications with him or her. With sufficient reason, you might also request another investigator.

10. Business may be booming in Investigations

There are a number of factors that could affect how long your case takes to be investigated. Case volume tends to peak at certain times (i.e., during performance evaluation season, layoffs, reorganizations). The investigator may have a huge caseload, may be going on vacation, may be out sick with no back-up, and these factors will affect the amount of time for your case to be resolved. Your case may also be handed off to another investigator.

To avoid surprises, ask upfront for an estimate of how long the case should take to resolve, and arrange for periodic check-ins, as appropriate. If you don't hear anything, check in. Don't assume that no news is good news.

Your friendly HR person is taking notes on all your communications with him or her.  Are you doing the same?
Your friendly HR person is taking notes on all your communications with him or her. Are you doing the same? | Source

11. You're being documented

A good investigator is documenting every key discussion he or she has with you. This includes the conversation date, time, and what was said. It may also include voice mails that were exchanged. Copies of emails and important documents are also kept in the file. Watch the tone and content of the emails you send to investigators!

Are You the Topic of This Meeting?

HR employees discuss investigations during staff meetings.  It's business, not gossip, but that's you they're talking about.
HR employees discuss investigations during staff meetings. It's business, not gossip, but that's you they're talking about. | Source

12. You can talk to select others about your case

When the investigator tells you to keep the investigation matter confidential, it's going to feel like you cannot talk to anyone about this. Maybe he or she even presents you with a company document that directs you to refrain from talking to others about your case.

You may wonder whether you can discuss the matter with your spouse, clergy person, therapist, lawyer, best friend, a coworker who is experiencing the same problem, or your union representative, and so forth.

There are, in fact, people you are legally permitted to discuss your case with and those you cannot. Ask questions if the company provides you with such a document or if the investigator makes such a request. Don't suffer in silence. Know your rights.

13. Cubicle eavesdropping may be taking place

If you are talking to the investigator via phone, he or she may be sitting in a cubicle or talking on a cell phone in a public location where others might overhear the details of your conversation. After all, office space is at a premium.

This employee just overheard your phone conversation with HR and is intrigued.
This employee just overheard your phone conversation with HR and is intrigued. | Source

14. How you communicate to the investigator matters

The investigator is evaluating your credibility, and it impacts the outcome of your case. For example: Do you change your story? Are you responsive to the questions asked, or do you wander off-topic? Do you have documents, details, and witnesses to support your assumptions and claims?

16. Conflict of interest, anyone?

The investigator might be friends or former colleagues with the person complained about. Check out the investigator's LinkedIn account to see if the two are connected.

In a political company culture, you never know who your HR investigator might be allies with.  Relationships might color their neutrality.
In a political company culture, you never know who your HR investigator might be allies with. Relationships might color their neutrality. | Source

15. You might receive feedback yourself

On occasion, it becomes apparent that the complainant has a major contributing role in the conflict. In such cases, the complainant may receive feedback (or on rare occasion, discipline) as the case is resolved. Alternatively, during the investigation an unrelated compliance matter could also surface.

17. Electronic eavesdropping:

Depending on the nature of the case, the investigator may electronically monitor your company email as a part of his or her research. This can be done in real time, and employees typically have no idea it's happening. I know because I've done it.

Frequent Flyers, Lawyers, and Other Realities

Electronic eavesdropping, or covert monitoring, sometimes occurs during HR investigations. If you think you're being watched, you probably are.
Electronic eavesdropping, or covert monitoring, sometimes occurs during HR investigations. If you think you're being watched, you probably are. | Source

18. Oh, it's you again

HR often has a short list of employees who repeatedly file complaints — sometimes against the same employee and at other times against lots of different coworkers.

Maybe these folks aren't getting what they need. Maybe they are highly sensitive. Maybe they are abusing the system. Snarky HR investigators may refer to them as "frequent flyers," but each allegation has to be investigated on its own merits.

There's another group of red flag employees who have a history of prior complaints against them, yet they somehow manage to stay employed.

19. We're betting you won't contact an attorney

HR investigates many complaints and trusts that most employees will not go to the trouble or expense of contacting an attorney about their workplace concern. The more you have at risk, however, the more you should consider consulting one. Lawyers do tend to achieve more attention and better results.

20. Sometimes, it only looks like nothing was done

If the allegations were substantiated (i.e., found to have merit), you may be told simply that the matter was "handled appropriately." It could appear to you that nothing was done.

In fact, there are probably outcomes that you are specifically not told about because of concerns about the other party's privacy. For example: a disciplinary write-up, a reduced performance rating, early retirement, a pay cut, demotion, a big promotion denied, or a bonus that was withheld. You may never know exactly what was done to the offender.

Investigators have a duty to examine the facts and provide a neutral outcome.
Investigators have a duty to examine the facts and provide a neutral outcome. | Source

21. A confidential case report may describe what happened in the case

At the conclusion of your case, the investigator may write a report about your case. A typical report contains background information on the key parties in the complaint, allegations made, steps taken during the investigation, the investigator's evaluative findings, and actions taken.

In the report, the HR Investigator also frequently documents credibility assessments for key parties in the complaint. You will not typically be granted access to this report, although some states consider investigation records to be part of the employee personnel file and therefore do allow access.

22. Substantiating a case takes more effort

Let's face it: it's much easier for the HR Investigator if a case has no merit. When a case is substantiated, the investigator must debrief management and agree on discipline and/or remedial action. Then, discipline must be administered and documented. The investigator may even have to present the case to his or her own management and vigorously defend findings and recommended actions, plus seek consult from the Law Department.

This extra work is simply a part of the HR Investigator's job. Appreciate them when you know they've been a conscientious investigator.

23. Role conflict

The HR Investigator may come across as neutral, polite, and professional, and you may trust him or her. You may even perceive you have HR in your corner. However, if you decide to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or take other action, that same HR Investigator will be helping to respond to your complaint.

In this case, that nice HR person will be helping to defend the company against your claim. Your relationship with the HR Investigator is a business one, so treat it as such.

Parting Comments

HR Investigation processes differ from company to company. Should you ever need to file an internal employee complaint, this insider's list of observations can help you ask questions, set shared expectations, and understand the potential pitfalls. Good luck in your dealings with HR and others. Above all, remember that in the grand scheme of life, this is a JOB. Practice good self-care emotionally and physically. You'll get through this.

And You Thought You Were Going Through a Rough Patch ...

This toad is having a very bad day.
This toad is having a very bad day. | Source

© 2013 FlourishAnyway

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Comments 61 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 weeks ago from USA Author

Tired - No, you just better know what you're getting into. Have your facts, a real issue, evidence and go in "guns a blazin'" in the figurative sense of course.

Tired 2 weeks ago

So, if I read the article correctly, it's best not to file the complaint.....great

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 3 weeks ago from USA Author

Ashley - If you're talking about how long an investigation should last, there are no clear-cut guidelines, but if it's dragging on and on (especially with no communication back to the accused or complainant), it gives the impression that the issue is not important and has been sidelined. Inquire to the investigator via email where the investigation is in process, reiterate how you are eager to see this important matter resolved, and remind them how long the case has been open by including the date that you initially complained or were interviewed (if a PCA). If you hear nothing back, wait a week and email the director of that person's department. You are creating a "paper" trail so do not do this by phone. Keep going higher until you get an answer. If this is a complaint that involves an EEO or wage and hour matter, for example, and they're not responding, you can always take it to outside agencies. It will help to have this "paper trail" as a part of your complaint. Hopefully, it doesn't come to that, however.

Ashley 3 weeks ago

how long does a company have to settle a dispute?

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA Author

Anonymous - I do think there's more to the story, but with the information I have and what I understand, here's what I'd offer: 1) throwing keys at the desk and almost hitting you must be addressed formally (and certainly documented) from a disciplinary standpoint, if that's not what her suspension was for; 2) if she did not have permission to cancel the Professional Development outing, then treat it as a formal performance issue in consultation with HR and your direct manager; 3) EAP should be offered to her if it has not already been. I don't understand why you would request the transfer. Managers have difficult employees, and often these employees are the ones who stretch and season them as managers. Difficult employees throw up challenges in attitude and motivation, teamwork, performance, and compliance with all types of rules, beginning with just showing up. Why not just brace yourself for the challenge and treat her fairly rather than dump this messy personnel issue on another manager? You can do this with a little coaching from HR and your manager.

ANONYMOUS 4 weeks ago

I had a issue at work that eventually I decided to file a harassment report. I had an employee throw keys at my desk almost causing them to hit my hand, not to long I'm certain she cancelled a Professional Development outing that was scheduled for our staff. There is more to the story, there was a suspension and I find out that she will be returning back. My question is my plan is to ask for a transfer to a different department. But, if I'm denied that request. What should i do?

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FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA Author

Lifeis2good - With few exceptions, you need to file the internal complaint first and let them go through their company process first, then file the EEOC complaint. (Else the EEOC may kick it back.) It's probably going through the motions. With your internal complaint, keep very good records of who you complain to, who you talk to, notes (afterwards on what is said), copies of emails/documents/copies/files, time it takes to respond to your complaint, any material evidence of retaliation such as your reassignment, demotion, salary or job change, explanations thereof, times/dates/of who said what etc. It's possible that the internal complaint may resolve the situation. If not, you'll be well armed for your EEOC complaint. Good luck.

Lifeis2good 3 months ago

Thank you, flourishanyway, for posting this very insightful article. Is it better to file an EEOC complaint when filing an internal complaint with HR? Is it necessary? I'm wondering if HR would be more defensive if an EEOC complaint was filed rather than attempting to handle it internally only? The complaint would be filed by a highly respected (at least so far) company employee in good standing.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 4 months ago from USA Author

Concerned - I feel your frustration. Your options are varied: 1) accept the situation and do nothing, 2) ask your manager for specific reasons why someone else was selected over you and work with your manager on a professional development plan that can bridge any gaps and make you promotable (documenting everything, of course), 3) file an internal complaint and when that is unsubstantiated then go to the EEOC and the OFCCP if your employer is a federal contractor, and 4) leave for another employer who values your contributions and talents. Don't let this make you bitter. You do have options.

Concerned 4 months ago

So what do you do if you are a woman who keeps having men promoted over her and cant really complain to HR because HR has already made it clear they exist to protect the company?

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FlourishAnyway 12 months ago from USA Author

Reynold Jay - Whew! Glad you weren't winding up. Thanks for the compliment. Have a great week!

Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 12 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Okay!!!!! I want to complain!!! Naw let's forget it and be friends. Super Duper article.

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FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA Author

Busysup - It sounds like he's now on their radar. If he has that much problem with the truth, it's likely that he will continue to trip himself up. Perhaps it would be useful for the appropriate managers in your company (typically HR) to review whether he was entirely truthful on his employment application. Many people embellish. In the mean time, they need to manage his performance (spending more time on-site?) and ensure that they enforce their policies uniformly. Best wishes ...

Busysup 19 months ago

The gun was brought in prepackaged by a customer who was trying to ship it out to California. It wasn't being shipped here. I do know that my manager and security are quiet now. I think they are brainstorming. I have to talk to our security supervisor a lot, and usually, she gets right back to me. When I let her know that I faxed off my clerks statement, I never heard back. I think by now, it's a waiting game. I think if he does get to keep his job, he will only get worse. There is definitely tension in the office after all of this. It is completely awkward every day at work now. I am still treating him with respect and as if I know nothing.

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FlourishAnyway 19 months ago from USA Author

Busysup - Management needs to step up to the plate and manage this supervisor (your peer) rather than expecting you to "keep a watch" on him. Your HR should be engaged, too. Your co-worker has been on the job 6 months, and I'd wonder what type of probationary period or preliminary evaluation he's had or will be having. Sometimes managers are defensive about people they personally hire, but especially if the regional manager works off-site, he may have no idea that your co-worker isn't working out -- especially to this extent. You say you "all" think he is a control freak. You can either talk with management directly, wait until something (??) happens, or hope your co-worker quits/gets fired/management somehow catches on. That's a tough one. It's very curious why a gun would be shipped to your workplace, potentially in violation of shipping/packaging regulations and your company's policy. You don't think it was being shipped to him, do you?

Busysup 19 months ago

I have a predicament at work. Well, it's actually not my predicament, but I'm in the middle of it. I am a supervisor and my coworker is also a supervisor. We are both in lateral positions. I have been with the company for 3 years and him, 6 months. I and the company clerk, who is not in a supervisory position, have had nothing but trouble with this guy. My clerk, who is female, has come to me a few times with complaints about him being very controlling toward her. He even refused to get her access to some programs, citing that since she wasn't management, she couldn't have access and she would have to go through him every time she needed to use the programs. I knew this was wrong, so I contacted security to get clarification on whether or not she was allowed access. Security told me that she should definitely have access. I went ahead and got her access for her. He also has defied instructions from our region manager and instructed a company driver to record his packages as missed and not emergency as upper management directed him to. When confronted the next day by the driver, he denied ever telling him to do so. I was there and heard everything. A red flag went up and I knew that I had just caught him lying to both employees and the manager. I went ahead and let the manager know. Manager wanted to know if he should terminate him. I told manager that I wasn't comfortable making that decision with a lateral coworker. I already make those decisions for non supervisors. Manager informed me that this defiant supervisor is to listen to me and work as I direct him to and explained that he would tell this other supervisor what he said.

Let's fast forward to a week ago. My clerk opened a suspicious package and found a gun being illegally shipped. I was not due to be in the office for another hour or so. She took package to Mr. Defiant supervisor so that he could call security. Our clerk knows protocol and did what she was supposed to do. Supervisor started to call the police, and clerk tried to tell him that he should call security and get instruction. He snapped and told her that he had everything handled.

Ok, so after he calls the police, he calls security. He lies and tells security that clerk brought him the package and he opened it. He then told the police that he was the person who opened the package. This prompted the police to focus on him for their police report. The problem here? He did not open the package, the clerk did. The clerk is supposed to open packages. She should have also been the person to give the police report. Now there is a falsified police report in our company's name!

Our clerk pulled me aside after I arrived at the office and told me what had happened. She told me how he lied to security and the police. She told me that when she asked him why he didn't tell them that she opened the package, he once again pulls the management card and tells her that she isn't supposed to open them, he is. False, false, false! Illegal, illegal, illegal!

I immediately went to a different office and called the woman who heads secirity for the region, who also happens to be the woman who he lied to. I told her exactly what our clerk told me. I also told my region manager. I stated it as "our clerk just told me this and I thought you both needed to know."

The next day, security wanted to talk to Mr. Defiant supervisor and then wanted to talk to the clerk. She wanted to hear both stories. She then sent me a text and wanted me to keep an eye on him to make sure that he didn't try to intimidate or coach our clerk. It was too late. He did pull out clerk aside when he got off the phone with security. Our clerk told me that he pulled her to the side and told her what to say. Security emailed me an incident report and asked me to have the clerk fill it out and turn it in.

There is a lot more to say but I'm sure I've typed a book by now. To conclude, today, my clerk said she saw this supervisor filing a complaint and heard him say loudly, "I hate to do this, but they are misrepresenting me."

I have a witness to the last time he lied. My witness is the driver that he lied to. The driver almost got a warning letter because he lied and told him to do something differently. In this situation, I clearly stated to upper management and security that I was not there when any of this happened, but was there to see him jump up and head her off before and after she got off the phone with security. I just couldn't hear what he said. I let upper management know that the clerk is telling me what he said and I'm relaying it to them. I believe my clerk. This guy has been caught lying, shows obvious signs of control issues and defiance. Security did say that she was not happy with her conversation with him. I honestly think he filed a report against our clerk and possibly me as a last ditch effort to try to cover his own butt. Do you think I have anything to worry about? I did mention this incident to two other lateral supervisors. One supervisor, I was actually cimmunicating with when I received the news, so I mentioned it to her and mentioned that I thought I should report it. She agreed. The second supervisor has had to try and train this guy and I felt I could get some input from her about his nature. Basically, we all thing he's a bat$*** crazy control freak. Seriously, there is fear that he will just lose it if he loses his job, and if he does lose his job, his sights will be aimed at the clerk and myself.

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA Author

aesta1 - Investigations certainly are challenging for not only those investigated but also others who are involved. Thank you for reading and taking the time to comment.

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FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA Author

Renee - I hope the HR manager can provide an unbiased view of what's going on and provide your husband direction forward. Good luck.

Renee Yates Lopez profile image

Renee Yates Lopez 20 months ago

Flourish Anyway,

Thank you so much for your response. This was not a temporary position as he had applied for it a year earlier, and was given it when the person retired who currently had it. Some off the cuff comments from new management has said that my husband is too good of a production employee to have the position that a former manager had bestowed upon him, so they removed him and put him back in a traveling production position, incurring non-reimbursed mileage costs and vehicle maintenance. My only hope is that the HR manager has a somewhat unbiased view on the facts, he told my husband that he couldn't promise him anything, but would let him know what is findings were.

aesta1 profile image

aesta1 20 months ago from Ontario, Canada

Excellent hub. I have been in the executive position when we have to investigate an employee and it is very difficult. I know that it is very painful for the employee. This makes it harder.

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FlourishAnyway 20 months ago from USA Author

Renee - There's always a chance for a collaborative ending. Although I don't know enough about your husband's particulars, I assume you both believe that his being Hispanic had an important role in his being removed from his job. See the Federal government's EEOC website and your state's human rights website for the employment laws that pertain to employees in your state (or seek advice from an attorney in your state who is familiar with your situation) . The situation you convey does lead to some natural questions, from an HR angle. For example, usually promotions involve actual changes in not only job titles but also responsibilities, pay, etc. (However, you say he's never had a raise.) Was this a job try-out -- i.e., a temporary position of some kind -- or an actual promotion? Oftentimes, people are given a certain period of time (6 months is not uncommon) to prove themselves in the new position. Issues of work performance usually aren't a surprise to the employee -- or let's say they shouldn't be. Whatever the case, I hope the right thing happens.

Renee Yates Lopez profile image

Renee Yates Lopez 20 months ago

My husband has been working at his current company for 12 years, never had any problems nor has he ever had a raise. We filed a complaint with his HR Dept. after he was removed from a position he was promoted to 6 months earlier with no explanation. He is the only Hispanic that works at this plant and they gave his position to a white guy. He has already been interviewed by the company's HR Manager. Are there any chances of a happy ending?

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FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA Author

colorfulone - It's not always a walk in the park for the one investigating either. Just when you thought you've heard everything you get that case even you don't quite believe. People never cease to amaze.

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colorfulone 21 months ago from Minnesota

Being in HR just might be an interesting job for people who like investigating and solving problems in the work place. But, I can see how and why it would be stressful for anyone filing a complaint.

Very interesting topic that I knew little about, before.

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FlourishAnyway 21 months ago from USA Author

Joyfulcrown - Thanks for reading and voting. Glad you got something out of it.

Joyfulcrown profile image

Joyfulcrown 21 months ago

I am so glad you wrote this article. I have always wondered what happens in HR, with complaints. I always wondered if making complaint would make any difference at all. Voted up.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

techygran - Shark tank is an apt description! Thank you for reading! Have a great day!

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techygran 2 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

Wow, this was an excellent article. I am happy not to be working for a bureaucracy any longer where the horrific minutia that you detail actually happens on a daily basis. I hope that this helps others to decide whether to "enter" the shark tank or just deal with the issues. Thank you!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

dhimanreena - I appreciate your reading and commenting.

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dhimanreena 2 years ago

hey thanks for sharing such an informative content.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

grand old lady - Thanks for stopping by and for sharing. Most employees have have no idea about what goes on behind the scenes in other departments.

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grand old lady 2 years ago from Philippines

This is very interesting. Although I work at home, it is always interesting to know what goes on in the workplace, and how complaints are handled. This is something every employee should know. I'm sharing this.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

ologsinquito - Thank you for pinning! Many employees don't realize what goes on behind the scenes, and I hope this helps them. I appreciate all of your support.

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ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This is such excellent advice that it's going to be the very first pin on my new Workplace Bullying board, on my new Pinterest account. This one's going to be a group board, so you're more than welcome to join.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Dennis Wesley - Thanks for reading.

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Dennis Wesley 2 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

Very informative article.

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Faith Reaper - Thanks for visiting. Enjoy your day off. I hope your friend gets the fairness she deserves.

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Faith Reaper 2 years ago from southern USA

Hi Flourish,

I missed this one, but glad I found it. This hub is very helpful and I hope all in these type situations read your insightful hub. As always, you cover a topic well. This sounds more geared towards those who work in big corporate companies than in a small office, but I think it provides a lot of insight to help anyone in such an employment issue. We have a state holiday today, so I am enjoying my day off : ) ...

Voted up and more, pinning (I know of some who this will help), tweeting and sharing

Have a great rest of the week too.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

Alex - I cannot offer legal advice, so I recommend contacting an attorney for advice specific to your situation and concerns. However based upon my HR background someone in this general situation might need to consider these things:

1) that some event and someone triggered the complaint investigation (Have you read your sexual harassment policy?)

2) what your company policies are regarding consensual dating in the office, especially between coworker (and did you in fact break them?)

3) the investigation has to conclude somehow and your leaving -- especially with limited notice -- may well be considered an admission of guilt. I doubt that a good HR department would just "drop it."

4) your immediate employability elsewhere.

One might also consider that a company HR rep would be hard pressed to interview a non-employee, i.e., a member of the public.

Whatever happens in your situation, I hope it is the *right thing* overall. You might also read these:

Alex 2 years ago

Hi Hub, this is very helpful.

My company is conducting an investigation on me for sexual harassment while it's more of an affair with a coworker With mutual interests. I don't want to be in the being investigated situation. if I leave before HR interview me for that, will it help stoping the investigation ?

Thanks a lot!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

dragonflycolor - Thanks for stopping by. I enjoyed my years as an HR investigator but learned some very valuable lessons about organizational politics and humanity.

dragonflycolor 2 years ago

I used to work HR and it wasn't fun investigating other employees. Most of the 23 listed above happened to a T, and it was nerve-racking. Great hub and voted up!

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FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA Author

ologsinquito - Thanks for spreading the word!

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ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

This one is so useful it's going on my Dealing with Adult Bullies board because the workplace is where so many people encounter the more "mature" bullies.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

ologsinqito - Sounds like you've been there or know someone who has. Thanks again for reading. I'll keep writing about these topics to help out employees.

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

No, they're not. It's rare that things improve as a result of going to HR. It's an interesting topic, no doubt about it.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

ologsinqito - Thank you for stopping by. I do hope this helps people as intended. Employees who raise complaints in good faith are doing the right thing, but they are not always treated that way.

ologsinquito profile image

ologsinquito 3 years ago from USA

This is a great article that probably hits many nerves, as corporate bullying is an enormous problem. It's good that you pointed out all the potential pitfalls an employee could face when going to HR, and that someone needs to think long and hard before making such a step.

I hope you write more articles on this topic, as it has the potential to help a lot of people. Voted up.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Crafty - For all the reasons you are thankful, so too are others! Thanks for reading and commenting.

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CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

Excellent information, but now I'm so thankful to be out of corporate America even more! Very informative.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Millionaire Tips - Thank you for reading and commenting. Dealing with HR can be frustrating for some employees, including managers because of the secrecy. Oftentimes just because employees don't see anything happening (e.g., the employee isn't fired, transferred, demoted right away), doesn't mean nothing occurred. For example, even when discipline was not warranted, I've provided some of the most honest, in-your-face documented feedback to employees that they've ever received. It provided them with a wake-up moment they'd never forget -- with the intent of being constructive, of course.

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Millionaire Tips 3 years ago from USA

Being a manger, I have had to discuss and file complaints with the HR department, and you're right, sometimes we just don't know what actions, if any, have been taken against the person I was complaining about. It is helpful in getting this additional insight. Voted up.

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Leslie - Thanks for the endorsement. A lot of times people run to HR thinking it's the cure-all. They are not prepared practically or emotionally to deal with filing a complaint. I would feel comfortable going for a specific issue that cannot be resolved otherwise but I'd be prepared, have a desired solution in mind, and I'd certainly want to know this information first. Once you "pull the trigger" with HR in a complaint it cannot be unpulled.

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LeslieOutlaw 3 years ago from South Carolina

I have seen the inside of a few HR investigations and I know that these things are true. It is no fun at all and people who are smart avoid these situations. I have seen people go to HR for help only to get fired themselves. Great hub. Voted up and more :)

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Thank you for the visit and comment, Lisa. HR can definitely add value when investigations are done in full compliance with the law, professional ethics, and company policy. With the constantly changing regulatory landscape, it's hard to imagine how small companies go without this type of expertise very effectively.

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LisaKoski 3 years ago from WA

This hub taught me a lot more about HR than I think I would have ever known otherwise. I actually wish the current company I work for had an HR department!

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks, Kasman. I may just do that!

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Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

Wow, talk about credentials. You should tell some of your stories in a book and make some money doing it,

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FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA Author

Thanks for the comment, vote and share, Kasman. I've been in HR with two different Fortune 500 companies, as well as government and have investigated cases ranging from discrimination and harassment to theft to workplace violence and everything in between. Just when I thought I had seen it all in Investigations, there was always something new.

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Kasman 3 years ago from Bartlett, Tennessee

An extremely detailed and hard look at the HR industry and how they operate. I love how you hit every nook and cranny in this and then you detail how to deal with each scenario. Good deal all around, voting up and sharing.

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Jeannieinabottle 3 years ago from Baltimore, MD

I really did not realize this much went on when someone filed a complaint. Of course, at my job we do not even have an HR department.... I just wish we had one! A lot of things would run much smoother if we did. Thanks for sharing this information!

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    FlourishAnyway871 Followers
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    FlourishAnyway in an Industrial/Organizational Psychologist with applied experience in corporate Human Resources and consulting.

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