Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) investigators are hired by human resource offices to investigate claims of discrimination and harassment in the workplace. Discrimination claims may be pertinent to an individual's disability, race, sex, sexual orientation or religious preference while harassment claims may include allegations of sexual or verbal harassment. Much like a law enforcement investigator, equal employment investigators must ask certain questions of individuals to gather facts about a particular claim.
When Did the Incident Take Place?
One of the first questions asked by an equal employment investigator seeks to confirm the time and date in which the incident in question occurred. According to "Employment Law Update," a newsletter published by the law firm of Jones, Skelton and Hochuli in Phoenix, Arizona, it is important to identify every time and date for each allegation and to treat each allegation separately. However, personal questions such as "how long have you been married?" and "are you gay?" are not permissible. Equal employment investigators must find the facts, especially since each person interviewed may give a different answer.
Was Anybody Else Present at the Time?
As with criminal investigators, equal employment opportunity investigators seek witnesses when investigating claims of workplace discrimination or harassment. If witnesses were present, investigators must interview them to get additional information and facts. "Employment Law Update" emphasizes that witnesses should be informed not to discuss the investigation with co-workers or other personnel. Also, it reminds investigators that witnesses may be nervous about the process. When asking about the involvement or presence of others, investigators should also remind interviewees that their comments are held in confidence.
Have You Engaged In This Type of Behavior Before?
This question helps investigators determine if the accused has a history of discrimination or harrassment. However, since investigators are asked to look at each claim diferrrently, it is important that investigators treat the current allegation separately even if the accused has a history of performing the incident. Personal questions about one's nationality, marital status or sexual orientation are considered illegal. Repeat incidents of discrimination or harassment may also mean that an employer has been overlooking or has not been cognizant of these matters on the job.