Workplace Investigations

A quick internet search can locate thousands of articles about settlements and verdicts involving employee misconduct.  Among the misconduct are stories of harassment and discrimination.  If you read enough of the details behind the headlines, there are some patterns of what an employer did or did not do that led to the trouble.

Many times, big awards on personnel matters come because the employer did not take some action when first confronted with a complaint that harassment or discrimination was occurring.  Sometimes the allegations “go away,” but often they do only through luck.

Employers are becoming more mindful of how to monitor their workplaces and how to address personnel concerns early, in efforts to minimize liability risks.  One of the ways employers are responding is by conducting workplace investigations, whether performed by a qualified employee or by a third-party investigator.   A workplace investigation can help an employer explain why a problem doesn’t exist in the workplace or to identify what the problem is in the workplace so that it can be addressed.

When a third-party conducts the investigation, the results of the report often are less vulnerable to claims of bias or catering to the “boss’s” interests.   Where the results may be newsworthy, a third-party investigator also may be a better option than an internal investigator because the investigator’s relationship to the matter is short-term and less prone to come at the issue with established opinions of the witnesses, knowledge of (and perhaps loyalty to) political alliances, and a developed interpretation of history, etc. that a current employee may hold. 

Workplace investigations by a third-party come with additional costs.  However, the costs may be a great investment in your workplace.

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One Response to Workplace Investigations

  1. It is important for managers to address personnel concerns early to minimize liability risks and potential employment lawsuits.

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