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Have You Been Targeted By an HR Investigation?

HR InvestigationOne of the most intimidating workplace occurrences is a human resources investigation. What do you need to know if you are the target of an HR investigation?

What is Human Resources?

Your employer’s human resources or HR department performs a variety of functions. They are responsible for onboarding new hires and off-boarding employees that are leaving. They help employees with benefits and keep track of employee information. Many HR departments recruit new employees. They also ensure that a company complies with local, state, and federal labor laws and standards.

Human resources staff are there to provide support to the employer and the employees regarding a variety of issues. Most employees have a mutually beneficial relationship with their employer’s HR department and go to them with questions and concerns.

But that pleasant relationship changes quickly if HR launches an investigation against you.

What three important things do you need to know about workplace HR investigation?

1. Your rights in the workplace are not the same as your constitutional rights.

The US Constitution protects certain rights for those under a criminal investigation. Unfortunately, these same rights aren’t always guaranteed in the workplace.

For example, your employer might not tell you why you are being questioned by HR or you might not realize that what you share with HR can be used against you.

This makes HR investigations troublesome and puts the employee at a disadvantage. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to contact an employment attorney early on in the process. Even if you know you’ve done nothing wrong and you aren’t sure the investigation will amount to anything, you want to be sure you are protected and guided by a legal expert during the process.

2. Your employer should have a process for conducting an investigation and you should familiarize yourself with it.

Not only should you review your employee handbook the moment you know you know something is up, but you should also turn to any other resources you have at your disposal.

Understanding the guidelines laid out for investigations helps you know what’s to come and prepare for it. Remember, employers aren’t necessarily legally obligated to adhere to their policies, but most do. The more informed you are the better case you can build in your defense.

To learn more about workplace policies and the flexibility employers have for adhering to them, check out this information from the Workplace Fairness organization.

3. HR investigations affect public and private employees differently.

Government employees do have rights provided to them under state laws.

In many cases, unions are in place to help you defend these rights. If you are a union member, make sure you speak to your union representative about the situation. Representation, when you are under investigation, is one of the primary reasons you pay union dues.

If you are a private sector employee who is not a union member, your situation could be a little fuzzier. This doesn’t mean your employer can harass or discriminate against you. However, as an employee-at-will, they have the option of terminating you at any time for many different reasons. Keep an open mind, but know that things might not go your way if HR doesn’t like what it finds during its investigation.

Do you believe HR has launched an investigation against you or were you notified of an issue? Speaking to an attorney can help you understand your options and prepare for the worst. For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact Borrelli & Associates, P.L.L.C.


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