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  • Writer's pictureS. Anne Marie Archer

The HR Investigation: Not Good News for Discrimination Claims

Updated: Mar 4

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is important to consult with legal professionals for guidance on specific legal matters.

Results on engagements and online courses may vary, successful outcome is not guaranteed.

Hey there, it's the AntiHR HR Lady, and today, I want to talk to you about a topic that many of you have faced when dealing with workplace discrimination: the dreaded HR "investigation." If you've ever found yourself in this situation, you might have realized that it's not always good news for you. In fact, it often works against employees, especially those who are victims of discrimination, particularly Black employees and especially Black Women.

Why Does HR Undertake Investigations?

First, let's understand why HR initiates these investigations in the first place. It's crucial to recognize that these investigations are rarely conducted with the intention of uncovering the truth. Instead, HR uses them to buy time and achieve a few key objectives:

1. Document Absolution: HR aims to document actions that absolve the company of the discrimination claim. Their primary goal is to protect the company's reputation and minimize legal liability.

2. Risk Assessment: HR investigates to determine the risk and liability associated with the claim. They want to assess how much of a threat the claim poses to the company and its interests.

3. Performance Issues: In some cases, HR uses these investigations to build a performance issue or claim against the employee. This can be a way to assist the manager in placing the employee on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP).

It's important to note that even if they do find evidence of discrimination, they are unlikely to admit it, as that would be an admission of guilt that could be used against them in court later on.

What Might Happen During or After an HR Investigation?

While the investigation is ongoing or after it has concluded, several outcomes are possible, and they largely depend on the decision-makers involved and their assessment of the situation:

1. Employee Targeting: The employee may be targeted and placed on a PIP, which can eventually lead to termination.

2. Transfer: HR might transfer the employee to another department or supervisor without providing a clear explanation.

3. Promotion Offer: Surprisingly, sometimes HR may offer a promotion to the employee as a way to mitigate the discrimination claim.

4. Separation with Severance: In some cases, an employee may be offered a separation package with severance pay.

The decision on which course of action to take is based on the perceived risk and the employee's knowledge of their workplace rights. If HR believes that the employee is unaware of their rights and can be taken advantage of, termination (option #1) is the most likely outcome. However, if the claim is well-documented and egregious, options #2, #3, or #4 may be on the table.

What Not to Do When Raising a Complaint

Before we move forward, let's discuss what you should never do when raising a complaint:

1. Don't Share Documentation: Never share your actual documentation with HR. Instead, inform them that you have it and describe it in your complaint.

2. Don't Name Witnesses: If there are employees who can support your claim, refrain from naming them explicitly. Simply mention their existence.

Why should you avoid these actions? Because HR is unlikely to use this information in your favor; instead, they may use it to absolve the company of wrongdoing or even retaliate against you and silence potential witnesses.

What Should You Do as an Employee?

Now, let's focus on what you should do as an employee facing discrimination:

1. Documentation: Have your documentation ready. When you raise your claim, make it clear that you have evidence to support it. However, do not share the evidence at this stage; simply describe it in your complaint. Let HR create their own trail.

2. Exit Strategy: Consider your exit strategy before raising a complaint. Understand that raising a claim often leads to the decision to leave your job. Your complaint should be a part of your exit strategy, not the entire strategy itself.

If you need assistance with creating an effective documentation trail or formulating an exit strategy, consider accessing the resources available at The AntiHR HR Lady:

- Documentation Journal: Grab and download the AntiHR Documentation Journal to help you maintain a robust documentation trail.

- Online Course: Explore the online course, "How to Ask for an Exit from a Discriminatory Hostile Workplace with 💰 and Actually Get It." This course will guide you in creating a strategy to confront your discriminatory workplace effectively and communicate your concerns to HR.

Remember, navigating a workplace discrimination claim can be challenging, but with the right approach and resources, you can protect your rights and seek a resolution that works in your favor.

Take control of your situation, and let's work towards a better, fairer workplace together.

Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is important to consult with legal professionals for guidance on specific legal matters.

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And remember:

HR is not your enemy but they are definitely not your friend

I am.

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