Prompt, Thorough, and Impartial Internal Workplace Investigations
In the 21st century workplace, the importance of prompt, thorough, and impartial internal investigations cannot be overstated.
Investigations can prevent legal claims from being filed, and they may limit the employer’s liability if a claim is made. Internal investigations can protect trade secrets, and other confidential business information, from employee theft, as well as prevent the diversion of client relationships and top-talent to competitors. An investigation of misconduct, such as harassment or discrimination, when combine with the appropriate remedial measures, may bolster employee morale by demonstrating that the employer is truly dedicated to fostering a workplace culture in which all employees are treated with dignity and respect.
Even when no employee has complained, an internal investigation may allow the employer to determine whether it has hidden employment liabilities. The employer can then take proactive steps to address any issues that are identified before they develop into complaints or legal actions and before they begin to corrode morale.
Conversely, an internal investigation that is conducted by inexperienced personnel, that is delayed, or that is, or appears to be, partial to the employer can give rise to legal liability, damage employee morale, may be ineffective at protecting the employer from liability, and may result in legal action. In addition, if the investigation is not conducted by an attorney, or under the direction and supervision of an attorney, the investigation will not be privileged. As a result, the employer may not be able to shield the findings from disclosure in the event of a future legal claim.
We conduct internal workplace investigations in matters involving:
- Harassment, including sexual harassment;
- Discrimination, including on the basis of race and gender;
- Non-payment or underpayment of wages, including failure to pay overtime and “off-the-clock” or after-hours work;
- Employee fraud or theft;
- Abuse of time off and leave of absence policies;
- Retaliation for reporting discrimination, harassment, or violation of other workplace policies;
- Competitive activity by employees, such as misappropriation of confidential information and trade secrets, and diversion of client relationships and business opportunities to competitors.