The outcome of an HR investigation is sometimes “inconclusive.” In other words, the conclusion is a lack of a conclusion.
This result frequently occurs either because there were no witnesses to the alleged incident or there was disagreement among the witnesses as to what happened. But neither circumstance necessarily supports the absence of a determinative conclusion by HR.
Many inconclusive findings could be avoided if HR were to make credibility determinations. Indeed, making—and documenting—such determinations is a critical component of most investigations.
Nonetheless, making credibility determinations involves more than simply sharing one’s intuition as to whether someone is telling the truth. Rather, investigators need to demonstrate that they have considered certain factors in making their determinations. They also must be careful not to misapply the information they acquire.