When employee misconduct issues arise, give employees the opportunity to tell their side of the story. Failure to hear an employee out could increase organizational risk.
Generally, it’s best to:
- Conduct a thorough investigation. If you don’t interview the accused, a court could later rule your investigation was insufficient.
- Wait before acting. Wait until the employee has had their say before drafting a disciplinary action or termination letter. Terminating an employee immediately after an interview could suggest your decision was pre-determined, regardless of the employee’s defense.
- Document the employee’s side. It’s possible the employee may admit to wrongdoing during an interview. Even if they don’t, it’s best to document the employee’s story. That can help protect the company from employees who later change their story after filing a grievance or legal complaint.
- Adhere to union expectations for due process. In a union environment, failure to give the employee a fair hearing could be criticized by an arbitrator, triggering a reversal of any disciplinary action.
No matter how strong the evidence against the employee, it’s a good idea to give them an opportunity to explain their actions. You never know what an employee will say. Even if it doesn’t change your course of action, it demonstrates a level of fairness and due process that could protect your organization down the road.