Antone Aboud is the president of Antone Aboud Associates, Inc., a consulting firm in Orlando, Florida, which conducts serious incident investigations and provides human resource management and training. Mr. Aboud holds a Ph.D. from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. He can be reached at 407- 812-6712, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His web site is http://www.aboud.com.
Many of the ideas in this article were originally presented in a white paper prepared for the Society for Human Resource Management in December 2003, entitled “ Conducting Serious Incident Investigations.”
Why would an organization conduct an investigation? Most of us would respond, “To find out the truth.” But the “truth” is rarely self-evident. What an investigation can do is fact finding. Unfortunately, there is little guidance available on how to conduct a thorough, fair, non-criminal investigation. The author suggests some guidelines that can serve as the basis for a discussion within the dispute resolution community of what we should expect from a competently conducted investigation.
With some frequency, organizations must conduct investigations of accidents and other incidents. These are really “fact-finding” missions. The organization might need to investigate the manner in which an employee incurred a work-related injury, or an allegation of sexual harassment, or an altercation between two employees. Regardless of the issue, the organization must learn the facts in order to resolve the matter in a fair manner. This article examines the elements of a fair investigation and proposes guidelines that could assist in its implementation.