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By December 5, 2023May 19th, 2024No Comments

By Brad Ryder

The November 3, 2023, newsletter outlined suggested practices to follow when conducting an investigation of harassment or discrimination.  In addition to those recommendations, the interview of the  victim should cover the following:

  • Oftentimes the victim will be the person who brought the problem to the company’s attention; therefore, he/she will likely be the first person interviewed.
  • Try to make him/her feel comfortable.
  • Explain that the company is conducting an investigation into the allegations that have been made and it is essential that he/she cooperate and provide as much information as possible.
  • Let the victim know that the company has separated the harasser and the victim and instructed the harasser to have no contact with the victim.
  • Confirm that the victim has not been contacted by the harasser since the company was made aware of the allegations.
  • Try to get the witnesses to provide names, without the interviewer first identifying anyone by name.
  • Ask open-ended questions and give the witness ample time to respond – silence is your friend.
  • Focus on who, what, where, when, and how:

    • Who was present?
    • What happened?
    • Where did it happen?
    • When did it happen?
  • Get details, but do not lose sight of the big picture.
  • Ask about the relationship between the victim and the harasser (i.e., are they friends?; do they go to lunch together?).
  • It is imperative to also cover each of the following topics:

    • How has this affected the victim?
    • If there was a delay in reporting the problem, why?
    • What would the victim like for the company to do?
  • Ask the victim to contact you in the event that he/she thinks of anything else and explain that you may contact him/her if you have any other questions.
  • Tell the victim not to discuss with anyone else what you have discussed, preferably even that you have met about the allegations.

Interviewing the victim and determining exactly what happened, when and where it happened, who was present, and what the victim would like for the company to do in response are vital to any investigation of harassment or discrimination.  This interview will likely be the linchpin of the entire investigation.

If you have questions about drafting employment policies, investigating claims of harassment or discrimination, or other employment-related issues, feel free to contact me at (256) 534-3288 or

This information is not intended to provide legal advice, and no legal or business decision should be based on its content.  No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.  Read full disclaimer.