Some good reasons to ensure you investigate thoroughly

An examples of where a lack of investigation case was costly, this is why you should investigate thoroughly

When a complaint is made employers should investigate thoroughly in a professional and timely manner to ensure that they satisfy their duty of care especially when considering the termination of an employee.

The case of Harley v Aristocrat Technologies Australia Pty Ltd [2010] FWA 62 illustrates an example of an unfair dismissal and the consequences of a lack of a proper investigation

The applicant Mr Harley was employed as a Business Development Executive at Aristocrat Technologies Pty Ltd (Aristocrat).

He had resigned after receiving a show cause letter from Aristocrat who claimed that he was under performing on sales targets and that there had been complaints about him from customers.

The applicant brought an unfair dismissal claim, claiming that he had been forced to resign as a result of a course of bullying and harassment engaged in by Aristocrat’s State Manager.

Commissioner Deegan agreed that the applicant had been constructively dismissed and that the dismissal was unfair.

He found that he had performed as well, or better, than most of the other business development executives during a difficult financial period and that he had been treated badly by the State Manager.

Significantly, he was highly critical of Aristocrat for failing to respond to the applicant’s harassment claims made against the State manager prior to his dismissal. He found that the human resources manager was “either uninterested in investigating the complaints properly or had no idea how to conduct such an investigation”.

 

The applicant was awarded 6 months’ salary in lieu of reinstatement.

This case is a strong reminder to HR professionals and managers to deal with employee complaints seriously and to conduct thorough investigations into complaints.

The author Phil O’Brien is a highly experienced and skilled workplace investigator and trainer who can take the stress out of conducting workplace investigations and provide you and your employees with up to date a relevant training in the areas of misconduct, investigations, procedural fairness, reasonable management action, performance management, bullying & harassment and other issues facing employers and workplaces.

This is general information only. It does not replace advice from a qualified workplace investigator in your state or territory. It is recommended that should you encounter complaints in the workplace that you seek advice from a suitability qualified and experienced workplace investigator.

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