New Human Resources Investigations Unit (HRIU) Established

The new Human Resources Investigations Unit (HRIU) was created as part of the Mayor's Executive Order, 2018-04, to improve the City's response to misconduct allegations, as part of the City's effort to address employee concerns about harassment and discrimination. Once fully staffed, the HRIU will conduct intakes and investigations, and develop findings for employees throughout the City.

Right now, the HRIU is partnering with the Mayor's Office, the IDT, and multiple departments to capture valuable feedback and collaborate on best practices as they stand up the new investigations team. They are also concurrently investigating several cases as they continue to improve and refine processes. The HRIU will also create and provide Citywide investigator training and guidance to investigators in other departments as they work towards standardizing our processes. 

Steve Zwerin, the HRIU director, has conducted over 1,000 workplace investigations in the public and private sector during the past nineteen years. In his previous work, he became increasingly frustrated with the traditional investigation method, which he realized wasn't effective. After all, most harassment and discrimination investigations don't find a violation of law.

In fact, according to the Washington Post, from 2010 - 2018, less than 2% of EEOC investigations resulted in a finding of discrimination and in only half that small number did the worker receive any compensation whatsoever. What this means is that employees often feel worse after an investigation. They put their faith into a process that often doesn't resolve their concerns. Then, after receiving a "no cause" finding, they are expected to return to the workplace as if nothing has happened. Further, other common workplace challenges, such as communication or management effectiveness concerns, can often go unaddressed.

The HRIU will address this with a focus on empathy (a trauma-informed approach) for the employee's concerns. The HRIU will attempt dispute resolution when possible, as it may be practicable to resolve the conflict through mediation (for example) rather than a disruptive investigations process. Further, expanding the scope of an investigation to include a review of department policies, and eventually, misconduct, will enable the investigator to assess a situation more fully and provide feedback to the department. Finally, the HRIU will work to incorporate post-investigation repair work to help the employee and department heal from the stress of an investigation.