Procedure for Processing a Complaint in Investigation
PART I – INTAKE
1. Verify contact information, preferred method of communication and that the type of employee is not a government entity.
a. Review their preferred method of communication – email or mail. To do this, double-click on the Primary Client record in the Related Parties, or open the Matter and click the pencil icon next to the Complainant. In the Contact record, select the Additional Details tab. Review the field marked “How do you prefer to be contacted by DFEH?”
b. Review the case information before the call. Open the Matter and check the Details tab, and make note of the information listed in the complaint.
2. Schedule Appointment, if necessary.
a. Call or email using preferred method of communication noted above. Create an Event for the appointment setting, to do this go to the Events tab of the Matter (Dashboard) and click “Add.” Select task type that relates to the method of contact (Phone Call, Compose Email) and enter a subject that denotes you are scheduling the interview. Write down any extra information you gain in the Notes section of the Matter.
b. Confirm scheduled appointment by email, if they have one. Select the Complainant from the Related Parties list, and click the “@” symbol to open a new email to them. Be sure to list the time of the appointment in the email, then click Send.
c. Next, once you have the interview scheduled, create an Event for the interview using the same process as above but as type “Investigation”. Be sure to set the Date & Time in the Event. You may also want to set an Alert for the interview, to do so go to the Repeats & Alerts tab of the Event, click the “+” button to add an Alert, and select the time beforehand you would like an alert to appear.
3. Interview Complainant
a. Create a note. To do so, go to the Notes section of the Matter, click Add, and then enter a subject (such as “Complainant Interview”). Record all new case info in the Detail field. The note is used to record all of the information that is pertinent to the case. The note is so your supervisor or assigned attorney can review and easily understand what happened during that event. For all events, you should create a note so that it explains what happened during the activity.
b. Review the questionnaire section of the Matter with the complainant during the interview. Verify that the information is correct and make changes to the harm, basis, and other fields as necessary. If changes are made, you will need to generate a new Complaint Form. To do so, after Saving the Matter go to the Docs tab of the Matter and clock “Template Merge”, select type “Complaint Related” and then select the appropriate complaint type. Then click the PDF button.
c. Begin completing the Investigative Outline, which is the based on the jury instructions to prove the violation for the type of harm. The compliant has already been asked these questions in the questionnaire section. A template for the Investigator’s Outline is available in Houdini. All evidence or supporting facts to prove the violation should be recorded.
d. Log the creation of the IO, the completion of the IO and each subsequent addition to the IO as individual “Event(s)” in the Houdini system using the same steps as we discussed earlier. You should use Task Type “Investigation” for this process.
e. Determine if the case meets the criteria for EEOC or HUD. Skip this step.
i. If it meets the criteria to get credit, in the matter click on Case #, enter a “?” and click “enter. The EEOC number is automatically assigned. For HUD cases, add the number that was assigned.
f. During the interview, the investigator should get a time-line of events and facts from Complainant and how they relate to the cause of action. Record this information in a Note using the process detailed previously.
g. If the complainant has additional parties – witnesses, co-respondents – add them as related parties. Click the “Add Related Party” button at the bottom of the Related Parties section, then select the Relation of the contact you want to add. Then, simply click the “+” icon to add a new Contact to the system. Fill out all related information, including name, address and phone numbers as well as email addresses, in the New Contact record and click Save. Then, type in the first or last name of the new Contact you added, and click Add.
4. Verify Agent for Service
a. Verify Respondent’s address & registered agent for service of process.
i. Contact respondent using contact information provided by complainant. Create an event to document call and create a note to document all of the details of the call and confirmation of the Agent for Service.
ii. Use Secretary of State web site.
iii. Use County Recorder
iv. If unable to verify Agent for Service, request review from supervisor. By creating a “to do” and assigning it to them.
b. Determine if Respondent has counsel that they wish to utilize in this matter, record counsel’s contact information and verify them as the registered agent for service of process, future communications and negotiations. Once this is done, you will Add them as a Related party using the process above, and select “Respondant’s Representative” as the Relationship to the case.
5. Based on interview, determine whether the investigation should end or if additional investigation is necessary.
a. To end investigation and close case:
i. The initial intake is also considered the verbal rebuttal opportunity if the investigator decides no additional investigation is necessary. There is no need to call them back again.
ii. Generate the “Closure Determination” letter and modify it. To do so, you will click Template Merge in the “Docs” tab, select type “Investigation” and then select the appropriate Closure Determination Template for the case type. Then double click and download it, providing the IRIS password when prompted.
iii. Add the closing reason and questions or statements that the complainant needs to refute to the document, save and re-upload it to the Docs tab by clicking the Add button at the bottom of the document list. Select the original Closure Determination document as a Parent, and write down in the Detail section that this is the revised version.
iv. Request approval to from supervisor to send “Closure Determination” letter. Go to the “docs tab”, select the document and click document details. Then, check the “notify and inform” box and select your supervisor. They will receive a notification in their GTD to review the letter.
v. You will receive a “to do” back from your supervisor within 3 business days to close the case. Investigator changes the status to “closed” and selects the appropriate reason.
vi. Email the back-up documents to email@example.com. See Attachment 1 for the required back-up documents.
1. Within the matter, click the ‘docs’ tab and select the approrpiate documents, then click the “@” symbol at the bottom of the list. This will create a new email, replace the recipient with the appropriate email address and click “Send”.
b. Continue investigation
i. Amend complaint, if necessary. The complaint should include the elements of the complaint based on the jury instructions.
ii. Skip step 6 and continue to Step 7.
iii. If the complaint is towards a public agency, and you intend to move forward with the investigation, change the status to “mediation.” If you have questions, then request review from your supervisor by creating a Todo. Click on the Todo tab in the Matter, click Add, and select your supervisor from the dropdown list (Assigned To). Then state your inquiry in the subject and details. Click Save, and the Todo will appear in your supervisor’s GTD. They will send a Todo back to answer you once they have reviewed the case; this also will appear in your GTD.
iv. Once you change the status to mediation you will NOT have access to the case. You NEED to verify with your supervisor if you are unsure.
v. In addition, if you have determined that the respondent is a State Contractor, check the appropriate box on the Details subtab of the Matter (custom field). You will receive further instructions on how to proceed if this is a complaint against a state contractor.
6. Mail complaint and Right to Sue by Certified Mail
a. Get a Certified Mail Receipt and complete the form.
b. The 20 digit USPS tracking number will be printed along the left edge of the Certified Mail Receipt as depicted in the image above.
c. Under the billing ribbon you can select "Expense". When the Expense form is open, select the expense type "Certified Mail." Enter the Total Postage & Fees into the amount field and then enter the 20 digit USPS tracking number. The image below depicts how the form should look. DO NOT enter any description, as this area will be filled in with the receipt confirmation details when the certified mail has been delivered.
d. Click the [save] button. HoudiniESQ will track and notify all matter members when the certified mail has been delivered. The Staff members GTD (MyDay) panel will display a item that they need to review. The GTD will appear as depicted below.
If I close case before mail is delivered, will I still be notified? We want to instruct the investigators to go to USPS to download.
7. Contact to Respondent to conduct PDS settlement attempt
a. Complete the PDS attempt within 10 days of receiving the confirmation of receipt from USPS in your GTD.
b. Create an event to track your time and activity. Create a note with the detail of who you contacted and the outcome. You will also note whether there is interest ina PDS from the Details tab of the Matter in the field marked “Interested in pre-determined settlement”.
i. If successful, then you will open the Matter, record the PDS date and select Yes in the dropdown noting the PDS was successful.
ii. if not, select No in the dropdown.
PART II - ADDITIONAL INVESTIGATION
8. Develop witness Interview questions in Word and upload the file. Save the document as Document type.
a. Create event, use stop watch and select Investigation as the activity. Create a corresponding note to outline the details of how you developed the questions.
9. Conduct witness interviews
a. Create an Event in Houdini of type “Investigation” with title “Witness Interview.” Change the Contact to the related Witness party, and start the timer, or simply enter your time if the interview was conducted offsite. Once finished, save the Event and upload your Word file with the Witness answers.
b. Anny evidence or facts should be added to the Investigative Outline and saved in Houdini.
10. Review Respondent’s response.
a. Create an event to track your time and activity. Complete the respondent’s portion of the IO and enter all facts and evidence.
b. Upload the revised version of the IO.
11. Secondary contact with Complainant
a. Review contents of response from Respondent with Complainant, find any discrepancies between the information provided by the Respondent in the response and by the Complainant in his/her complaint and timeline. Request additional documentation from Complainant if needed or rebuttal. Share information gained through witness interviews with Complainant. Ask Complainant if there any additional witnesses that he/she would like you to interview.
b. Create an Event in Houdini of type “Investigation” with title “Second Contact With Complanant.” If on the phone, start the timer, or simply enter your time if the interview was conducted offsite. Once finished, save the Event. Be sure and update the Notes section with any new information, and if any new Witnesses are revealed, add them as Related Parties by clicking the “Add New Contact As Related Party” button in the Related Parties area of the Matter.
12. Grade Case and determine if additional investigation is necessary.
a. Log meetings with the case grading attorney or immediate supervisor. Log each meeting with your supervisor about the case as individual “event(s)” in the Houdini system. Use the “Investigation” status code.
b. If 3 star, send a “todo” to your supervisor.
c. Supervisor will complete to do within 3 business days and approve or change grade.
d. If 3-star is approved, add your assigned attorney as a “Matter Member” and send them a Todo to review the case grade.
e. Attorney will complete to do within 3 business days and approve or change grade.
i. If approved, continue to complete IO according to instruction from your supervisor and attorney.
13. Exit interview, case closure and sending Complainant their Right-to-Sue
a. A case investigation must be completed no later than 6-9 months year from the date that the Complaint filed to ensure there is sufficient time for post investigation mediation.
b. The final step in every investigation is the exit interview. It is here where you tell the Complainant what evidence you have gathered and whether or not this evidence supports their assertions that they were discriminated against in violation of the FEHA.
c. At the conclusion of an investigation one of 4 outcomes will result; 1) The case will be closed due to a lack of evidence to support a claim, 2) The case will be sent to the legal department for further action based on its merit and potential of being a violation of the FEHA, 3) The case will settle, or 4) The case will be sent to mediation for resolution. You, along with your supervisor and counsel from the legal department will make the determination as to which of these outcomes will result in a particular case.
d. Once the exit interview is complete, follow instructions in Step 6.
e. Log the exit interview, your submission of the case for closure, filing and uploading of supporting documentation into the system, and the mailing of documents to related parties to the case as individual “Event(s)” in the Houdini system and email the back-up documents to firstname.lastname@example.org. See Attachment 1 for the required back-up documents.
i. Within the matter, click the ‘docs’ tab and select the appropriate documents.
ii. Click the “@” symbol at the bottom of the list. This will create a new email, replace the recipient with the appropriate email address and click “Send”.
15. Transfer to Mediation for Post investigation Mediation or to Legal for Civil Complaint
f. Send a Todo to your supervisor for approval to transfer to legal or mediation. Go to the Todo tab of the Matter, and click the Add (+) button, and select your supervisor from the list.
g. Supervisor will complete Todo within 3 business days and approve.
i. To check on the status of the approval, check the Events tab of the Matter and uncheck “Exclude Completed Events” and search in the box for the Subject of your Todo.
ii. At this point, your assigned attorney, should be familiar with your case and will help you determine the best course of action.
iii. Change status to “in legal” or “mediation”. Then click Save.