Responding to and Preventing Claims of Harassment in the Dental Office – Part 3

This article is a follow-up to “Responding To and Preventing Claims of Harassment – Parts 1 and 2,” which discussed: (i) the various forms of workplace harassment; (ii) the establishment and enforcement of practice harassment policies and procedures; (iii) prompt action when responding to claims of harassment; and (iv) the decisions that need to be made before initiating an investigation of a claim of harassment. In logical sequence, Part 3 is going to discuss the investigation of a claim of harassment, specifically the documentation that should be maintained during an investigation. The dental practice attorneys and employment attorneys at Nardone Limited maintain that more employment cases are won and lost due to documentation than any other factor. Understanding the what documentation should be maintained is important not only when responding to a claim of harassment, but also becomes important if the employee ultimately files a charge of discrimination/harassment with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission (“OCRC”) or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For more information on employment matters that affect your dental practice, see our articles titled (i) “Responding To and Preventing Claims of Harassment – Part 1,” (ii) “Responding To and Preventing Claims of Harassment – Part 2,” and (iii) “Employment Agreements with Associate Dentists.”

What documentation should be maintained during the investigation?

The person designated to conduct the investigation should create a separate file in which he or she should include:

1. A completed Equal Employment Opportunity (“EEO”) complaint form.  This is an important form for all employers to maintain to document complaints of harassment or alleged violations of equal employment opportunities.  The EEO complaint form should be reviewed with, and made accessible, to all employees.

2. The Employer’s explanation as to what the complainant should expect from the investigation and the Employer.

3. A plan of action that documents the answers to the following questions:

  1. Who is going to conduct the investigation?
  2. What interviews are needed, and who will conduct those interviews?
  3. What is the timetable for completing the interviews and the investigation?
  4. Who will be involved in evaluating the investigation, and determining what to do following the investigation?

4. An interviewer log that documents all calls and actions taken by the interviewer, including the date and time of each.

5. Witness interview notes detailing the questions asked and answers given and any other information revealed in the interviews.

6. Relevant policies and procedures including, but not limited to anti-harassment policy and procedures, and corresponding complaint procedures.

7. Documents related to the complaint or supporting the details of the complaint.

8. A determination that provides a summary of the complaint and the investigation, findings of fact, and a determination of and plan for action.

9. Documentation of a closing interview with the complainant with his or her signature signing off on the results of that investigation.

Throughout the investigation, your dental practice should keep in mind, or at least keep on hand for reference, this list of documentation that should be maintained during the investigation.

Contact Nardone Limited

If you would like the help of an experienced employment attorney to: (i) draft a discriminatory harassment policy and corresponding complaint procedures for your dental practice; (ii) provide discriminatory harassment training for your practice staff; and/or (iii) assist you with investigating a claim of discrimination or responding to a charge of discrimination or harassment from the OCRC, you should contact Nardone Limited. Nardone Limited, a Columbus, Ohio law firm, provides specialized dental practice representation across Ohio. The dental practice attorneys and employment attorneys at Nardone Limited represent dentists in such diverse areas as: (i) buying and selling dental practices, (ii) asset purchase agreements, (iii) employment contracts and noncompete agreements, (iv) labor and employment, (v) human resources, (vi) Ohio Dental Board proceedings, (vii) lease agreements, (viii) real estate purchase agreements, (ix) tax planning, and (x) estate planning. Contact Nardone Limited today to discuss your practice and how Nardone Limited may help you.