Q. Should I suspend the accused while the investigation is ongoing?
A. The short answer is, “No.” This is because protocol should not dictate that the accused employee should be suspended or otherwise removed from the workplace as a matter of form. However, prior to conducting an investigation an employer should always consider the need for precautionary measures to protect the interests of the complainant, other employees, or the employer itself during the investigation. Even “investigatory leave” as opposed to “suspension with pay” can appear punitive and contradictory to a neutral investigation. Be sure the action is reasonably necessary to address a particular concern, not simply a matter of form. Ask why this is necessary. Look for alternatives which would least disrupt the work environment. Also, consider that returning “the accused” to the workplace following your investigation might be all the more difficult as a result of her initial removal. Removal of an accused is sometimes appropriate, for example, where the complaint concerns violence or serious misconduct that is initially well supported by current evidence.
If you need help conducting a workplace investigation, call 800.884.1328.