My husband is an assistant soccer coach at a local high school. He and his head coach have a policy of not talking with parents immediately following a game. The gist behind this philosophy is that emotions are still running high - win or lose - and that little will be accomplished in that sensitive time period. No one involved has had an opportunity to objectively assess the situation when it follows that closely on the heels of a game. (I first thought the policy was simply to allow them time to partake in the grilled goodies that remained at the concession stand and needed to be disposed of one way or another.)
Too often, employers do not afford themselves the same breathing and regrouping room that coaches often utilize. When faced with an emotionally-charged situation, such as a counseling, a claim of harassment, or general employee unrest, employers feel that the need to react is immediate. Actually, the best course is usually to allow for a cooling-off period. Obviously, you want to hear the employee's complaint and not put him/her off, but the time to make a decision on the complaint is rarely during the same visit the employee makes to lodge the initial complaint.
The cooling off period gives all parties involved time to think, to distance themselves from the emotions that can sometimes interfere with their better judgment, and to develop a more objective opinion of the situation before them.
One option is to send the employee home while you consider the situation and form your plan of action. Despite appearances, sending employees home during an investigation is not punishment; rather, it's quite often good practice. So the next time you are faced with a situation that potentially is rife with emotions, allow yourself some breathing room and distance. It will benefit you in the long run.
Happy working, and go SoccerCats!