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Real, Long-Term Solutions for Healthy Workplace Culture


Investigations are often not necessary in response to harassment and discrimination allegations. But the way you know if they are necessary is by looking at other times when you would normally conduct an investigation. An investigation is a mechanism to protect an accused employee from being unfairly disciplined or fired. It is not a mechanism to protect a complaining employee. Most states have “at-will” employment status, meaning an employer could fire an employee for any reason, unless it is specifically prohibited by law.

If a long-time client of a company complains that a staff person was threatening, for example, often an employer will immediately suspend or fire the staff person without any kind of investigation. The allegation alone is enough to trigger the discipline. The employer may give the employee an opportunity to prove themselves, but the employer will likely not force the client to prove the employee did something wrong.

This is because in the United States, as we have established the law now, there is no right to have a job. A job is something we prove we are capable of doing well, and then we have the privilege of continuing to keep it. That is not necessarily the best way to manage employment structure, and many employers want to provide greater protections for employees for good reason. Unions have also done a lot to give employees better rights and more protections. Increasing job security is a crucial step to reducing harassment and discrimination because, as we talked about previously, insecurity in a job position is likely the number one indicator of