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Don’t sweat perfection when investigative honesty is enough

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in Discrimination and Harassment,HR Management,Human Resources

Employers often agonize over whether their workplace investigations are thorough enough. They worry that they somehow have to ascertain the absolute truth and can’t make any mistakes.

Relax. As long as your investigation is reasonable, courts won’t interfere—even if your conclusions were wrong.

Recent case: Daniel Duviella lost his job at Jet Blue Airways after he was accused of sexual harassment. The company investigation apparently sided with the accusing employee.

He sued, claiming that the conclusion reached by the investigators was wrong.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out Duviella’s case. It concluded that it wasn’t in the business of judging whether an employer’s investigation was perfect. Instead, its role is to see whether such investigations are tainted by bias. The bottom line is that employers can be wrong as long as they’re honest. (Duviella v. Jet Blue Airways, No. 08-2775, 2nd Cir., 2009)

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