An employee claims that you discriminated against them at work. You feel shocked. You have always valued inclusivity at your company, and you thought that everyone knew it. You thought that you had a healthy company culture. But now your business is facing some very serious allegations and you're worried about what it could mean for the future.
How you proceed in the face of these allegations is very important. Here are a few tips that can help:
- Do not try to "stonewall" the investigation. Cooperate at every turn. Yes, you think that you're innocent and it may feel unfair that you have to go through this investigation at all. However, anything but cooperation just hurts your position. Focus on using the investigation to show that you did nothing wrong.
- Remember that you and the employee may just have different perspectives. Find out exactly what they thought was discrimination. How did you see it? Is this all just a misunderstanding?
- Be compassionate. You don't have to admit you did anything wrong -- but do take their account seriously. Understand that this could be a difficult time for them.
- At the same time, don't compromise your own rights. Don't admit to anything you did not do just to make the investigation go away. Remember that employees do sometimes make false accusations. Consider the future of the company and your own future.
Throughout the entire process, the key is to understand all of your legal rights and the steps that you need to take. Stay calm, focus on the process and find out what you need to do from a legal standpoint.