Throughout the investigation process, the employer should strive to balance the needs of ending harassing behavior with protecting the rights and reputation of both the complainant and the accused. To avoid potential defamation claims, the excessive publication of the charges and information received during the investigation should be avoided. Investigators, agency officials, and other employees should refrain from discussing the charges and related information outside of the context of the investigation. The allegations and information obtained during the investigation should be maintained as confidential as possible within the limitations of state and federal law.
In the case of Downham v. County of Lennox and Addington, 2005, the Court concluded that the employer had not conducted even the most basic attempt at fact finding during its investigations. The Court noted that:
- The defendant employer made no effort to contact the employee at the outset of the investigation to ascertain his position;
- The investigation was biased, shoddy and substantially undocumented;
- The information allegedly obtained from key witnesses was not recorded, which resulted in false and distorted information being included in the investigation report;
- The investigation report was recklessly prepared and contained numerous statements of fact and conclusions that were unfounded. The statements could have been discovered to be false if key witnesses had been carefully interviewed;
- The employee was treated unfairly by not being informed of the allegations against him and by not being given an opportunity to respond;
- Although the employee subsequently filed information that disclosed information at odds with the content of the investigation report, none of the defendant’s management made any further effort to investigate; and
- The defendant maintained its position at trial even though several facts and conclusions in report were contradicted.