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Are Employee Investigations Confidential?

The EEOC issued a letter warning employers that they cannot silence employers during an internal harassment investigation.  To do so is a flagrant violation of Title VII and not trivial.  According to the letter,  which was directed to a specific redacted employer, ” telling [redacted] women who complained of harassment that they were not to tell others about the alleged harassment is enough to constitute harm under Title VII.

There does not have to be a separate adverse action. In addition, your written policy is so broad that a reasonable employee could conclude from reading it that she could face discipline or charge for making inquiries to the EEOC about harassment if that harassment is being or has been investigated internally by your organization.”

What does this mean for the employer?  While the letter is not yet official EEOC law, your investigative procedures should be revised to assure that employees know that they are free to talk ab9ut the subject matter of their employment claims with other employees, although you can ask that employees not discuss specifics of any interviews that take place.

Have your HR policies been reviewed by an attorney lately?  This might be a good time to contact my office to make sure that you have the correct policies and procedures in place.