Messy Investigation

Messy Investigation

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This is a tricky and complicated one, so I'll try to keep the synopsis as brief as possible.

The company received a complaint from one of our service users (a recreational club) in relation to an employee whose services they used regularly as a coach.

In January we were provided with a number of complaints against the employee, some ranging back to 2007 and the most recent dating back to December 2008.

We have held a number of investigation meetings with every person mentioned in each complaint and every person the employee has suggested as witnesses.

All of the complainants are committee members of this club who are all backing each other with identical stories. All employee witnesses are friends of the employee and parents of children who attend our premises.

The crux of the situation is that the complaints have only been witnessed by committee members and each situation could be viewed as acceptable in terms of the employee's explanation, but unacceptable if the word of the committee members is taken as factual.

My problem is that no-one interviewed is impartial and I am struggling to get definitive proof to support either camp. Based on probability, as the committee members are backing each other, their stories match and it could be argued that they have witnesses albeit from the same committee.

My biggest concerns are that a) the length of time it has taken them to report some of the issues and the fact that they allowed the alleged actions to continue and didn't once raise them formally or informally with the employee, and b) the potential lack of impartiality.

Any suggestions on what to base a decision on? I'm struggling to decide whether this needs to go to a disciplinary hearing or not as it is impossible to determine which account of events is correct.


HR Manager

Replies (4)

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By kluxon
06th May 2009 09:10

Very simple in my view - it needs to go to a hearing. You have reasonable believe that something may have happened - this needs to be tested at a disciplinary hearing (rather than the investigation stage you appear to be at).

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By Duncanchandler
06th May 2009 10:12

From a technical point of view, I would suggest that complaints that are over 6 months old cannot hold much weight. If it was that bad why was it not raised at the time.

In relation to the most recent, the question is how serious is the allegation. As it sounds as if one group are happy with the situation and the committee are not.

Has your employee done something to upset them such that they would consider trying to get them out? - I have seen that one in a previous organisation where the directors wanted an employee dismissing no matter what.

If this has dragged on there is also the potential impact on the employee to consider.

As an alternative could you get the standards expected from the committee laid out and then sit down with the employee and go through the standards.

You might then also lay out how the committee should raise concerns.

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By kansel
06th May 2009 10:23

The allegations if taken as gospel could be serious - including the intimidation and bullying of children. However, the empoloyee is refuting the claims and has given a rational explanation of what has happened on each occasion and how they have potentially twisted it to suit their aims.

The employee's argument is that if she was intimidating children for so long why would the committee continue to send their children to her, especially as they failed to raise anything with either us as her employer or her as their coach.

If it goes to a disciplinary hearing it's difficult to see how it is ever going to get anywhere because none of the witnesses on either side are impartial as they all have children attending the club or are committee members.

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By kluxon
06th May 2009 12:43

But is it going away any other way?

You have a process and its probably best to follow it. You have carried out an investigation and on face of it there is a charge to be addressed. You should now convene a disciplinary hearing

At the hearing an indpendent manager will listen to both sides of the arguement and reach a judgement based on her reasonable believe as to what happened. Thats what the disciplinary process is for.

If she finds the allegations proven then sanction up to or posisbly dismissal will apply. If not then you as service provider need to find a way to resolve the situation which might include mediation or moving the employee to another site for a fresh start.

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