When an employee alleges wrongdoing, you’ll need to conduct a thorough internal investigation. That may mean interviewing employees, supervisors and even customers.
But be careful how much information you share with those you interview. If you indiscriminately discuss the comments of others who were interviewed, it may constitute defamation. Texas law only protects communications made in the course of a wrongdoing investigation if disclosure is limited to people who have a legitimate reason to know.
Recent case: J.C. Penney fired Darlene Crouch from her job after an investigation concluded she intimidated other employees with tales of violent acts she and her family members had perpetrated. The investigation also found she had pointed a pocketknife at the employee who initiated the complaint.
Crouch sued, alleging (among other claims) that she had been defamed by the employee who said she had pointed the knife. J.C. Penney asked the court to dismiss the case because the statements the employee made were privileged.
The court agreed in principle, but said a jury was best qualified to determine if the company had controlled the dissemination of the alleged false statement about the knife. Privilege, concluded the court, protects only employers that can show the statements were communicated without malice. (Crouch v. J.C. Penney, No. 4:06-CV-113, ED TX, 2007)
Final note: Interview employees separately and don’t tell them what others said.
Like what you've read? ...Republish it and share great business tips!
Attention: Readers, Publishers, Editors, Bloggers, Media, Webmasters and more...
We believe great content should be read and passed around. After all, knowledge IS power. And good business can become great with the right information at their fingertips. If you'd like to share any of the insightful articles on BusinessManagementDaily.com, you may republish or syndicate it without charge.
The only thing we ask is that you keep the article exactly as it was written and formatted. You also need to include an attribution statement and link to the article.
" This information is proudly provided by Business Management Daily.com: http://www.businessmanagementdaily.com/3827/guard-whats-said-during-in-house-investigationits-not-absolutely-privileged "