Can the wife of an employee be in charge ofthe HR departmentif there is a pending investigation regarding her husband?

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Can the wife of an employee be in charge ofthe HR departmentif there is a pending investigation regarding her husband?

Our CFO is the wife of my VP of internal operations. Our department filed a formal complaint on him to HR for sexual harassment and general harassment. After the investigation was opened our President “restructured” the executive team and put his wife (our CFO) in charge of the HR department as well. Given that she is married to the person that has the open investigation, is this legal? All actions regarding the investigation has seemed to stop. It seems as though he has been protected from any actions against him.

Asked on June 3, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues:

1) Is it "legal" in the sense that can the company do this? Yes.  A company may hire or appoint any one to any role, subject only to general ability to work in this country (e.g. a citizen or legal alien), any industry-specific bars or requirements (does the person have any licenses necessary; has the person done anything prohibiting them from employment in that industry or position); and anything in the company's own rules.

2) Is it wise--no; in fact, it's arguably highly stupid. Putting the wife of someone who is under investigation  in charge of the investigation would almost certainly render the investigation effectively valueless; this will be taken into account if the harassed employee(s) file a complaint with the state or federal department of labor, or bring their own lawsuit.


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