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What HR Won't Tell You: Employee Complaint Investigations

Updated on May 08, 2016
FlourishAnyway profile image

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

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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    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 5 weeks ago from USA

      TalktoHRorWaittoGetFired - Either your boss is really inexperienced/unprofessional, there are some key details missing, or both. Consult your employee policy manual (or union contract) and see what policies are being violated. There has to be something outlining vacation requests, for example.

      You say that you work for an airline. If you are unionized, by all means take it to your union rep, end of story. If not, then why not notify HR? Make them officially aware that you 1) filed a rebuttal to the previous discipline and want to ensure that it was in fact placed in your personnel file; 2) are being subjected to manufactured rules that only apply to you (supplying examples and print outs of emails that show you are being made to jump through hoops they don't have to); and 3) her application of rules are inconsistently applied throughout the department. Consider your total work history and demographic background. Why do you think your boss would be seemingly out to get you? Are you someone with a history of good or poor work performance, a stellar record or a spotty history? Is she perhaps attempting to discriminate based on an illegal factor (e.g., race, religion, disability, national origin, etc.)? Have you been hurt on the job perhaps? Was this supervisor a former work peer of yours whom you didn't get along with? (FYI, it's not necessarily discrimination just to dislike someone based on personal distaste for them.)

      If you have a good record and are a good employee, don't go down easily. Take your situation to upper management. If you are fired, file for unemployment and claim wrongful discharge. If there is an EEO issue involved, complain to the appropriate government agencies (EEOC or state human rights board, OFCCP, etc.). I hope this helps.

    • TalktoHRorJustWaitToGetFired? 5 weeks ago

      I am in a situation where I am being singled out and treated blatantly unfairly by my boss. She has written me up twice and the last letter said final warning. Now the background. I was written up for a list of seven "infractions" of which only one was true and it was minor. I responded to the write up with documentation that disproved the infractions and asked that my response be placed in my file with the original write up. My manager didn't talk to me for 2 weeks and then called me in for a meeting and said that she received my response and it was "water under the bridge". I felt like my side of the story was included in my file so it would be best to just try and move forward. Prior to my write up however, my manager informed me that i had a one hour response time to her emails, this rule only applied to me and none of my 10 coworkers and that in order to take vacation of more than a few days, one months notice was required. Again, this policy only applied to me and was not conveyed to the rest of the staff. I told her i had never planned a vacation that far in advance in my life and aside from that, we work for an airline and a months notice to take vacation when flying standby is kind of unreasonable and makes it difficult to take advantage of the benefit. Anyway, our department is closed the last two weeks of December and I have 3 weeks of vacation left. I emailed my boss and notified her that in order to use up my vacation, i would have to take off from December 10-31. I emailed her on the 28th of November (Monday) and didn't receive a response by that Friday so I followed up to ask if she received my request. She scheduled a meeting for December 7th and said we'd discuss it then. I went into the meeting and she didnt say anything other than how selfish it was to expect my coworkers to cover for me on short notice and that she had informed me that a months notice was required to take that much vacation, then she handed me a "final warning" letter. No discussion, just handed me the letter which was dated December 1st so it was obvious that there was nothing i was going to say to change her mind so i refused to sign it. She said to enjoy my vacation (yeah right) and I told her that had she not made it difficult for me to take time off, i would have used more of my vacation by now. Additionally, I told her that not everyone else gave a months notice, in fact they have never been told of this policy that applies only to me. I also told her that i had coordinated with my coworkers to make sure everything was covered in my absence. My question is can a manager make rules that apply to only one person? I am the only one that has been written up for anything and it is painfully obvious that others are not held to the same standard as me. I get along really well with all of my coworkers and they have all said that if necessary they would testify on my behalf because it is so blatantly obvious that it is upsetting to them. Since the first write up was 90% untrue can this be my final write up? And I got written up for simply asking to use my vacation which is 3 weeks, but our department is closed for 2 of the 3 weeks. Should I talk to HR or just let her fire me when I return from vacation for not replying to an email she sent within one hour? That's where this seems to be headed, but I dont think I should have to leave a job I have had for 7 years without a single issue just because a new boss comes in and doesnt like me. Its more about principle and not letting her get away with false allegations that are now in my employee file and not letting her make rules that apply only to me. That's the definition of discrimination. Talk to HR or not?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 5 weeks ago from USA

      Rozee - I've run into cases similar to this, disgusting as it is. I'm sorry that you encountered it. You said that the company was UK-owned. Even foreign owned companies based in the United States must comply with US civil rights laws.

      You might think back about whether there were magazines or other "props" that were present or if he was just using his own imagination. Management took photos because there may have been "something" on the carpet. Typically, the photos and any notes management takes are considered company confidential and only the rare inexperienced or foolhardy HR person would hand those over willingly -- but it's worth asking for.

      As for the hours you lost, I would point out that you are 1) a good worker (if that's true), 2) you did nothing to bring this on yourself, 3) the man was having sex with himself on company property which cannot possibly be something that they approve of, 4) if he says he didn't do it, then one of you is obviously lying and you have no motivation to do so, 5) and you want to be MADE WHOLE for reporting his sexual act. Describe to them the hours that you have lost in this process.

      They shouldn't tell one employee about another's impending discipline but if you don't see him around the factory anymore, you'll know he was fired. Best of luck. I hope management steps up and does the right thing. No one needs to encounter this disgusting stuff while they are trying to earn a living for themselves and their families. All the best to you.

    • Rozeee 5 weeks ago

      Hi FlourishAnyway, I have filed a report to my manager against my co-worker last Thursday. My complain is based on seeing him masturbating at our stockroom, (I work for a UK's clothing company.) My manager connected HR and today I had my formal investigation interview with the area manager of our store. As my management decided since yesterday me and my co-worker can not work at the same shift anymore because of the seriousness of my complaint. The investigation is still in process but I have already lost hours that I supposed to work. I needed to stay at home today because of the interview, and as I have just an 8 hours weekly contract I am not sure I can make complaint against the company reducing my hours. I feel there is no-one who can protect my rights in this situation. The area manager promised me that I will not loose my job but she can not say anything about what is going to happy to my co-worker after the investigation process.

      My management also require me taking this case very confindential. However after me discovering my co-worker disguasting and abnormal behaviour – that I immediately shared with my manager; I won't be adviced furthurmore in this situation. As an interesting fact added to this case: after I reported my colleague; my manager took pictures about our stockroom carpet – as proof.

      I asked her yesterday before my formal interview to send me the pictures. After my request she phoned our area manager and they decided to refuse to share the pictures with me. Do they have this right, or are they just trying to cover my co-worker?

      Please if you have any advice share it with me, I would be very grateful.

      Kind regards, J.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 6 weeks ago from USA

      kansas - You need to be much more specific in naming the suspicious incidents when you go to HR. Also, what is the possible motive? If you are being photographed, followed by a specific person, or if threats have been made that's one thing, but it's hard to look into a person's "sinking feeling" where there is no evidence. Hope this helps.

    • kansas 6 weeks ago

      What I do when I feel like I'm being watched and followed at work? Also, you know the manager is behind this

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

      I'm sorry this happened to you. As a disclaimer let me first reiterate I'm an I/O Psychologist and HR professional, not a lawyer and you should consult an attorney in your area on legal matters. That said, however, if it were me, I would organize all my materials (because time is money when talking with lawyers especially). I'd organize a one-paged cover sheet, bullet pointing key facts, names and titles of witnesses or other involved employees and dates. Do not provide this to the company or communicate with your attorney via company email. Beware what you share with coworkers, too.

      I'd personally engage the best employment attorney I could afford before closure of the investigation. This is in case you get a bad result, the investigation dies or takes an unreasonable amount or time, there's retaliation, or negotiations arise regarding your exit or a new job elsewhere in the company. An attorney on your side makes them listen much better. Leaving makes the most sense if your job is not too specialized, you're under 40, you're well-networked, not the primary family breadwinner and/or you feel good about the economy and job opportunities in the area where you seek work. It can take a very long time to find a job. (Don't forget to file for unemployment if you are severed from the company.)

      I'd also know the exact solution I seek. Is it to transfer to a new role? To have the PIP go away? To receive an apology? To have company benefits continued for 6 or more months after leaving, at company expense? Severance and a positive or neutral (confirmation of dates of employment and title) job recommendation? A combination of these things? People who go in wishy washy get what they ask for -- not much. Don't let them tell you "it can't be done." IF your case is egregious enough, then all kinds of things can be negotiated. Even so, don't be surprised if the investigation does NOT go your way. That's when you probably need to consider severance with your attorney's assistance. My big warning is to keep a copy of all your evidence and printed copies of emails and relevant policies (like EEO Policy, Anti-Harassment Policy, Performance Management Policy) at HOME. The company owns your work equipment and your workspace so don't expect much privacy. Important documents in the workplace do go missing. Also, Don't talk with your lawyer where you can be overheard.

      I hope this helps you in moving forward, whatever that involves. You have ONE life and in the end there are so many different jobs out there, some good and others not so good. Don't be miserable. Call ugly behavior what it is (racism, discrimination, or harassment) and take care of yourself.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 8 weeks ago from USA

      Beverly - Wow, that is some story. First, I agree that you should have immediately disclosed the pre-existing relationship and the incident in which you were inappropriately touched by your client (just to protect yourself from this type of situation). However, that assumes that there are well-established, publicized and understood procedures for doing so. But that's water under the bridge now, and you've learned from it.

      Now that the disciplinary matter against you is resolved, it seems that your need is 1) to restore the Reiki sessions and 2) get some of your questions answered (perhaps about the process and why they have such a hang-up about the Reiki sessions after 2.5 years if the sexual harassment claim was unsubstantiated).

      Your HR Rep should give you the courtesy of returning your emails. If you feel passionately about the resolution you seek, go higher, including up the HR chain and outside of HR. Your attorney should be able to help you get the attention you need. I highly recommend his/her involvement. Be succinct and know what you are seeking in your request to the hospital. Have your attorney help you draft the email. In it, tell who are briefly (a 30 year retired Veteran with 44 years nursing experience and x years of excellent service to the hospital). Say that a patient's false allegation against you was recently dismissed, and even though you are upset by the experience you want to get back to the business of helping your clients. Describe the trust and admiration your coworkers and others have expressed in you and say that they are increasingly asking about the your Reiki sessions but you've been left hanging by HR.

      Unfortunately, because Reiki involves touch and there has been an unsubstantiated complaint against you as well as the unreported pre-existing relationship with an employee, don't be too surprised if the hospital takes the conservative route and says no more sessions. The explanation they give you will be interesting to hear, but it's basically about protecting themselves legally. That doesn't mean you cannot offer Reiki outside of work on a consulting basis. It seems like you are very good at this popular service. Sorry that sometimes it seems that no good deed goes unpunished. Don't let it sour your spirit. You seem to have a good reputation among your colleagues.

    • BEVERLY M BRIGGS 8 weeks ago

      I was recently charged for having a pre-existing relationship with an employee. I am a hospital admin , but I also do Reiki as a volunteer . After one of my Reiki sessions, I interviewed a new patient referred to me by his Psych MD. During this interview, he touched me inappropriately/ When he came for a second session I spoke with him told him that his behavior would not be tolerated and that our relationship is patient and practitioner. He left and never returned . I wrote a not in his chart. I wrote that he groped me and what I did. Three months later he finds out about the note goes to the patient advocate ( who he knows, he made complaints often about his care) he states that he touched me intimately , he had feeling for me, and wanted to go out on a date and that we had a make out session. He also stated that I kissed him. I retrieved a phone call from my Chief Nurse informed me that I had to write out exactly what happen. I did and I was interviewed by the hospital detective. The final conclusion came to a possible 5-day suspension for allowing a patient to touch my thighs, hips, and breasts and haveing a pre-existing relationship. I am a 30 year retired Veteran with 44 years experience has a nurse. I have worked at this hospital for 11 years has a hospital admin. I had given Reiki sessions to the staff/ patients and family members for 2.5 years with no complaints. excellent reviews and I am a senior citizen in my 60,s . Of course, I was devastated and angry. Not only was I traumatized by the sexual assault , but also by the assault on my integrity, character and lack of emotional support. I immediately hired an attorney . The charge was changed to a reprimand because I did not notify my supervisor and my Reiki sessions were suspended . My patients and the MD I worked with all gave me character references. My patients and the employees ask about the continuation of the Reiki sessions. The finally investigated the alleged sexual harassment. They did not find enough evidence to prove the allegation. Now I have requested to speak with HR because I have some questions , but the HR rep is ignoring my emails for a meeting. What should I do about this?

    • Gsc224 8 weeks ago

      Flourish, can you advise? I have been a part of the same team for nearly six years with outstanding performance reviews. Earlier this year, a new manager came on board and from the beginning, it was clear that she had something against me. I will mention that I am the only ethnic minority on the team and she treats me noticeably worse then my white teammates. A couple of weeks ago, my manager initiated and unfair performance Improvement plan in an effort to build a paper trail to get me terminated. I prepared an extensive rebuttal document with 30 pages of evidence refuting every point of criticism. It was completely disregarded and ignored by human resources and I was told that I had to go along with the PIP. I am in complete agony. I'm actively interviewing for a new position both internally at my current firm and externally at outside companies. A couple of days ago I sent a formal complaint of racial discrimination to the head of human resources and my company's general counsel. I received a reply back that they will investigate the matter. Right now I'm trying to decide how to move forward. I am hopeful that the company will do the right thing and remove this unfair pip and maybe even help me transition into a new role, but the company has shown me before that I have no reason to trust them to do the right thing. Ive consulted several employment lawyers and many are eager to help me negotiate a severance package. However if I get a lawyer, I will be Burning Bridges and saying goodbye to those potential internal job opportunities. I'm not sure what to do but it's such a difficult situation and I just want it resolved quickly. Do you have any insight into how the company will react now that I've made a formal complaint of racial discrimination? Do you have any advice about what I should do next? Get a lawyer to help me get a severance package or hold on to hope that an internal job transfer will work out? Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 8 weeks ago from USA

      CivicEmployee - There are so many ethical and compliance issues in this story you relay. Regarding the hammer incident, report it as your supervisor has directed you to do, describing it factually and cite both the safety concerns and ongoing and persistent nature of her disruptive behavior that makes it hard for you (and others?) to execute work duties. Name names. Remember that you are creating a pattern for the record for HR.

      Since it seems like she is already on HR's radar, there are likely other complaints regarding this out-of-control woman. When HR interviews you, be prepared with a non-emotional verbal account of this woman's background and how she got to where she is (in case the investigator is new, it's not in the record, or the investigator was rushed and didn't review the record). You might even have a one-pager of bullet pointed talking points which you hand over at the end of the HR interview.

      Express your concerns to your supervisor regarding filing the report so that someone has your back. The inappropriate relationship and fraudulent hiring of this woman is jeopardizing your productivity and your safety if she is tossing hammers. Sooner or later this dangerous lady could cause huge trouble for your employer. You might also consider a well-placed anonymous letter to a high up government official. For example, when I worked for a state agency, sometimes dissatisfied employees would write the Governor about employee matters and their complaints would come down to the Agency that way. You better believe there was follow up on those cases. They would sometimes also leak issues to the press if they wanted to cause a real nightmare. I'm not recommending these hail Mary options, but they do exist for government employees. Line up your evidence: who said/did/can verify what allegedly happened, when, why they happened, and how things went down.

      Good luck. There was corruption in her hiring, but may the right thing now happen!

    • CivicEmployee 8 weeks ago

      I am not sure how to proceed with my situation and any information would help. I started at my current job on 10/31/16 as a Admin Tech for a government building. Since day one a part time maintenance worker has given me additive and has been extremely disrespectful in various ways. To keep this in perspective we are both very young, 21. The instances have been small but they make it extremely hard to do my job effectively and for the team to reach our goal on time. Recently there was an incident where she "tossed" a hammer at me but I was below her and I feared it would him me with the amount of force that was put into the motion. I told my supervisor and she immediately told me to write a report and we would send everything to HR to be handled because I am not the only employee having issues with this worker.

      Now here is where it gets tricky.

      This girl was hired at another city location by a man who she was in a prior relationship with (he is married) . He coached her on what to say in the interview and even taught her things she would need to know to make sure she would be able to work there with him. His wife found pictures she had sent her now boss and boyfriend and the wife sent the to HR. Now HR has no idea about the prior relationship for the coaching he gave her for the job and interview. These are all things the girl in question told my supervisor trying to get closer to her on a personnel level. HR sent her to work at the building she is currently at and now she is doing something similar, flirting with all management and seeing co workers after work or on days off. She is extremely entitled, sassy and hard to work with.

      My question is how do I even write a formal complaint letter about small issues or disrespect and this hammer incident? And what do I do, if anything with this HR information? We are both very new and still on probation and this job is a great career starter for me and I would hate to possibly loose it or be marked as a problem employee so soon.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      phyllis - Print out the email(s) first, if you did not already. Keep them at home, and have a copy at work.

      One big thing jumped out to me with your additional information: You say you are a 30+ year employee and this was the "last straw," suggesting it's been going on awhile. Do you think that their treatment of you is motivated by age-based bias (and perhaps bias based on any other protected factor, such as sex, national origin, race, religion, color, disability, veteran status?) I don't know your personal situation so I'm just asking. If it's personal bias (they just don't like you), then it's simply inappropriate behavior and bad management. If it's based on some protected factor such as age, then that's a different story. Just saying.

      You also indicate that you've reported the issue to HR and it was handled. After doing so, does the mistreatment still continue? Is there evidence of retaliation for reporting the behavior?

      Talk to your attorney about the issue. Have all your ducks in a row when you discuss (names, dates, titles, departments, copies, who said what, witnessed what and when). Is there other evidence of potential age-based (and other possible) bias, such as name calling (even if in jest), inappropriate jokes or comments around the office, excluding you from meetings/key conversation based on age)? How are others who are in your category (e.g., age) treated on these same factors? The law sees "older" employees as 40+, by the way.

      Lastly, know what you are seeking. Is it to retire ASAP, with a nice "$weetener"? To be transferred? To hear an apology? To have them shamed within the company or damage their careers? Some are more reasonable than others. I've seen ALL of these things happen, but the process was long and painful on everyone. Your attorney can discuss the specifics of your case and tell you where to head from here.

      Take care of yourself. Don't let this overcome you. You are strong. You didn't bring this on.

    • phyllis 2 months ago

      Thank you, FlourishAnyway, for your response and advice. The written document was an attachment sent to me by my supervisor by mistake. She meant to send me copies of work related documents but instead sent me a screenshot of her computer monitor which included a chat between her and a co-worker in my peer group. The chat between them contained inappropriate and hurtful comments about me and they're opinions on my quality of work. Which is unethical on my supervisor's part since she as a supervisor should not be discussing with a subordinate. This is just a tiny snippet of their conversation but enough to show that my supervisor is not professional and how she feels about me. They were even laughing about it, saying "hahahahaha" in their chat and my supervisor commenting that i sabotage my computer so that i dont have to work. All lies. I have been with that company for over 30 years and have gone through so many bad experiences but i have children so i just sweep them under the rug or at times have contacted the union about but our union is pretty weak. They have helped sometimes, but most of. the time i feel they will not be of help or not be effective enough, i dont follow through with my grievance. But this was the last straw. I refuse to be bullied anymore. I consulted with a labor attorney and saw a company appointed psychologist and the psychologist agreed that my anxiety and stress were caused my a work related matter. Hopefully, the labor attorney finds my case strong enough and decides to represent me. Once again, thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      Phyllis - I don't know what type of written proof it was, but I hope you kept a copy. You never know when it might come in handy in the future. Because the matter was dealt with as an HR investigation, all parties were likely told not to discuss the confidential matter further with others, and that includes requesting or offering any apology. Would you really want a forced apology anyhow? Just try to move on.

      Don't let this bog you down. Use the situation to become strong, resilient and confident about who you are. Your manager and coworker are the idiots resorting to petty, back-biting insults. If they had problems with your work, there are professional and appropriate ways to deal with them. They are cowards ... attacking you personally?! Seriously, that's so middle school.

      I used to work with a manager and his 30-year employee whom he let get away with anything. Her cussing and screaming went unnoticed right outside his door, her political backbiting and name calling of other employees was overlooked or even found humorous, intentional exclusion of me or other employees who objected to her behavior was permitted, and my manager even joined in as she insulted my immediate family (she thought I was gone).

      Some people are just mean. Others make mistakes. Either way, be vigilant, take care of yourself, develop a network of people who care about you, and don't cave to their mistreatment because then they win. Good luck.

    • phyllis 2 months ago

      Hi. I had an incident at work whereas i "stumbled" on written proof that my supervisor and an employee in my peer group was talking badly about me personally and about my work. I have since filed for stress and a complaint against them. HR told me due to confidentiallity they can not tell me if disciplinary actio , if any, were taken. I have come to accept that, but no one had apologized. Need advice and opinions, please. Thank you.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 months ago from USA

      Davana OConnor - It sounds like this comment took place in front of an HR rep, with the three of you there. Are you accusing your manager of a threat against you, sexual advance, or something else? What was the body language and voice inflection involved? The reaction/response of HR? I'm not sure I understand the situation. If the HR rep did not take appropriate action, report the incident to the HR rep's boss. Don't forget you can always call the HR person, too or write a letter to present your side.

    • Davana OConnor 2 months ago

      What should I do when my direct manager tells me The only way I'll speak with H/R alone is if I go home with her? She refused to leave the room after being asked by H/R to exit.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      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 3 months ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      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 months ago

      how long does a company have to settle a dispute?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 months ago from USA

      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 3 months 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?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 5 months ago from USA

      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 5 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
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      FlourishAnyway 7 months ago from USA

      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 7 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?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 15 months ago from USA

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

    • Reynold Jay profile image

      Reynold Jay 15 months ago from Saginaw, Michigan

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      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 22 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 22 months ago from USA

      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 22 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
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

      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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

      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 23 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

      Mary Norton 23 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 23 months ago from USA

      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 23 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?

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 24 months ago from USA

      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.

    • colorfulone profile image

      Susie Lehto 24 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 24 months ago from USA

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

    • Joyfulcrown profile image

      Joyfulcrown 24 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

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

    • techygran profile image

      Cynthia 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!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      dhimanreena - I appreciate your reading and commenting.

    • dhimanreena profile image

      Reena Dhiman 2 years ago

      hey thanks for sharing such an informative content.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • grand old lady profile image

      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      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.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      Dennis Wesley - Thanks for reading.

    • Dennis Wesley profile image

      Dennis Morriosn-Wesley II 2 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Very informative article.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

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

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      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.

      Blessings

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

      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:

      https://toughnickel.com/business/Can-You-Find-Love...

      https://toughnickel.com/business/Accused-of-Wrongd...

      http://hubpages.com/business/The-Inside-Track-What...

    • 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!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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 3 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!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      ologsinquito - Thanks for spreading the word!

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 3 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

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

    • CraftytotheCore profile image

      CraftytotheCore 3 years ago

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

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Millionaire Tips profile image

      Shasta Matova 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.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
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      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • LeslieOutlaw profile image

      Leslie 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 :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • LisaKoski profile image

      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!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      Thanks, Kasman. I may just do that!

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 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,

    • FlourishAnyway profile image
      Author

      FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

      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.

    • Kasman profile image

      Kas 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.

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 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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