From William Robinson at law firm Dinsmore & Shohl, an in-depth look at the specific steps a company should take to respond to whistleblower complaints while protecting the rights of those who filed them:
“Much has been written on substantive complaint procedures; i.e., whom to interview, what questions to ask, how to ask them, etc. The tougher issue, and the genesis of much litigation, lies in how an employer treats a whistleblower after a complaint or report of inappropriate conduct has been initiated.
How, then, does an employer implement complaint procedures that will protect the interests and rights of whistleblowers, and at the same time minimize unreasonable or inappropriate complainant conduct? Here are some basic rules:
• Ensure fair treatment of all involved parties. Above all, employers must ensure that the whistleblower, the alleged wrongdoer, supervisory employees who may be involved, and all other witnesses are treated in the same manner—with respect and due deference to the information they share. Those persons conducting the investigation, and those ultimately involved in any decision-making process, must always demonstrate impartiality and professionalism.
• Concentrate the investigation not on the complainant, but on the alleged conduct. In any investigation, it is easy to become caught up in the personality, character or employment history of the complaining party, and thus lose focus on the conduct at the center of the inquiry. A complainant might engage in behaviors during the investigation that can be viewed as unreasonable, whether born of anger or frustration, dissatisfaction with the process, or a sense of justice or moral outcome, which have no real bearing on the veracity of the complaint.”
Read the full post, The Whistle Has Been Blown: Now What? - Dinsmore & Shohl LLP»