Back To Career News

What to Do When You Are Being Investigated at Work

Your manager wants to meet with you and has set up a time with your local HR contact. There’s been a complaint against you about some action or behavior that violates company policies. Whether or not you're guilty, your employer is required to conduct an investigation, and you may or may not have anybody on your side. This is surely a bad situation to be in, but knowing what to expect and how to handle your case could help.

Your manager wants to meet with you and has set up a time with your local HR contact. There’s been a complaint against you about some action or behavior that violates company policies. Whether or not you’re guilty, your employer is required to conduct an investigation, and you may or may not have anybody on your side. This is surely a bad situation to be in, but knowing what to expect and how to handle your case could help.

hr 

(Photo Credit: Mike Licht/Flickr)

1. Keep your appointment with the investigating committee. Your manager, HR, and any other neutral party could be involved. No other meeting can be more important than this one (barring personal exigencies). Your job maybe on the line. Avoiding this meeting will put you in a bad spot, and like it or not, be viewed as insubordination. If you must cancel, which you should do only if you have a really unavoidable reason, reach out to the other parties and explain clearly. Try doing it in person and propose an alternate time.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

2. Listen. Whether this is the first time you are hearing the accusations, or you have already been given a heads-up before going to HR, be cautious and listen to what you are being accused of. Often people are so ready to object and prove they are innocent, they fail to comprehend what is being discussed. So pay close attention to what is being said and what isn’t.

3. Consult a lawyer. Set up some time with an employment lawyer, to understand what your next steps should be. Professional help, although expensive, could be useful in salvaging your reputation and/or deciding on your next steps. 

4. Share your side of the story and offer proofs. Depending on the nature of investigation, HR may or may not share the name of the complainant(s). But, you would want to understand the context of the complaint to be able to defend yourself. So ask for as many details as possible. If you are able to gather eye witnesses or show documented email trails, make your case. Be completely truthful and cooperate during the investigation.

5. Do not retaliate. If you know who has complained against you, do not under any circumstance try to get back at them or retaliate in any manner. That will just make your case worse, and can be grounds for disciplinary action up to and including termination.

6. Ask to understand your options. If the investigation proves your innocence, then you go back to your normal job, if not, know what your options are. Can some training help? Could you resign, instead of being terminated? (Note that if you choose this course, you might not be eligible for unemployment benefits.)

If you are guilty, know that it will go in your file, even if you are given the option to resign, and you maybe blacklisted from approaching the organization for future opportunities. What you can do, however, is request that your employer to note your exit as a voluntary resignation so your future employment with other organizations is not hampered. Know that they may not honor your request. If you have been wrongfully terminated, i.e. if the investigation was not thorough and you were not given a chance to explain yourself, you do have the option of choosing legal recourse.

Tell Us What You Think

Have suggestions or experiences to share? We want to hear from you. Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

Padmaja Ganeshan Singh
Read more from Padmaja

7
Leave a Reply

avatar
6 Comment threads
1 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
ISantosTom AndersonlornaNeil powellJose Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
Kevin
Guest
Kevin

If I quit during the an investigation do they continue or drop the investigation?

ISantos
Guest
ISantos

What about if someone maliciously posted a facebook post using your picture. How do you proove to HR that this was not you? The supervisor started her own investigation and even request for a person to lie and say things. But you cant bring this up to HR because the other person does not want to get in trouble

lorna
Guest
lorna

My termination at work did not make any sense!I have been working for a big-telecommunication company as sales agent for 4 yrs-I was called in the office and there was no clear back up if i did apply wrong promotions or not( because the promotions are on your own discretion) All the reviews on my employment record shows I am great and doing above average performance-my commission is high mostly and I had a feeling that will be red flagged because they do not want to pay me that much. I was called at the office on the 24th aug… Read more »

Tom Anderson
Guest
Tom Anderson

The environment we are in nowadays is totally insane. There is no lawyer could help us. Employers always try to take advantage on employees whom are hard working as us. If we get abuse or harass from someone from the workplace, we have to be shut and zip our mouths because there will be no one wants to be as a witness to help us. Your co-workers or someone knows you may not help you because he or she does not want to loose her job, and lawyers out there are so useless because they will rip you off and… Read more »

Neil powell
Guest
Neil powell

I was investigated for abuse which was found unfounded,was off with pay,after investigated I was not able to return,they said I did something else which mot true,and admin telling people i sid it,even writting my name sown giving to someone telling them I did it ,but it was never investigated, but I have incident report at local pd with my name on it,is this rite

Jose
Guest
Jose

I was fired “let go” from my job because a sheriff investigator went to my boss’ work to tell him I was under investigation for what ? I don’t know but my boss refused to comment further on it. They’re saying I deal drugs or something bogus like that just because I know people that do them or whatnot (in a place so small everyone knows someone like that ) yet I was let go? I’ve never brought or done or do any of those things especially at work yet I was let go without further comment.

Maura
Guest
Maura

Unfortunately most employers will see the process through and continue with the investigation even if you have resigned

What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.