What can I do about an on-going investigation at work?

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What can I do about an on-going investigation at work?

I was just suspended from work, there is an ongoing investigation which may lead to my termination. They did not tell me any details other than this is based on performance and some other sensitive information. This leads me to believe that other sensitive information is related to myself as a production supervisor hanging out with a co-worker. If it’s not that I have no idea what it is. My points relating to this is I didn’t have a relationship with this person nor did I do anything that I believe any other person in my position has done or is doing. Is there anything I can do to protect myself? I feel uncomfortable and in most ways feels discriminated against if this is what this turns out to be and if it leads to my termination.

Asked on October 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Unless they ask you to participate in the investigation, there really isn't anything that you can do until they do decide to discuss the result of the investigation with you.  If the allegations are sensitive in nature (like a harassment concern), then your employer is required to conduct an investigation and make findings. 

Even though they are not required to talk to you, you can still volunteer to do so.  If you have an HR department, reach out to them and volunteer to participate.  Often managers don't really have a clue so just tell employees to hold tight-- when HR would really like to have your side of the story. 

While the investigation is ongoing, you only have a couple of things that you can do to protect yourself.  The first is to review your employee handbook and your employer's website.  Often, these handbooks will have procedures for certain events like these. It will give you an idea of what should happen.  If the manager or HR are not following procedures, then this can be evidence that you are potentially being rail-roaded (possibly for an impermissible purpose).  Second, make notes on every conversation you have had and subsequently have with any manager or employee that gives you information regarding the investigation.  Third, consider doing your own "online" investigation.  People volunteer amazingly stupid things on social networking sites-- like "how they got this guy fired at work by...."  One of these postings could really change the direction of an internal investigation.

If you are concerned that this whole investigtion is a ruse to fire you for an impermissible purpose (like racial or gender discrimination), then review the EEOC website or visit with an employment law attorney to get more information about options for relief under federal discrimination laws.


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