Various situations can trigger the need for a workplace investigation. These include allegations of discrimination or harassment, workplace bullying or abuse, theft of company property, policy or statutory violations, and inappropriate use of the internet or social media. Employers often try to resolve minor issues informally through discussions with those involved. In other instances, the allegations may be serious, complex, or it may be difficult for an internal investigator to remain impartial. In those situations, it may be wise to contact an independent third party to conduct an investigation.
By outsourcing an investigation, you protect your organization, preserve impartiality, and simplify any litigation that might result. In many cases, the results of a sound and thoroughly conducted investigation can be used to quickly resolve the issue at the early stages of litigation, or before a lawsuit has even been filed.
Outsourcing your investigation can save your organization time and money by avoiding the expensive consequences of a flawed or poorly conducted investigation. Internal investigators also have many other duties and responsibilities that may not be accomplished when they are conducting investigations. By having an outside party investigate, an organization avoids that lost productivity time. It also insulates your organization from allegations of bias or non-compliance, preserves workplace morale and can avoid the risk of creating additional toxicity in the work environment.
Whether you are a human resources professional, a business owner, a compliance officer, or someone else in your organization who has received a report of workplace misconduct, conducting an investigation is often the best response. A thorough and unbiased investigation conducted by an experienced professional can provide insight into what happened and help the organization determine the best type of responsive action. A comprehensive and well-researched report can also protect your organization against unfounded legal claims.
Before starting the investigation, thought should be given to its scope and breadth. Some complaints focus on a single event, while others involve acts that occurred over a period of weeks, months, or even years. A skilled and conscientious investigator will identify the issues to be investigated, the policies and relevant laws that govern the alleged behavior, and the witnesses who should be interviewed.
Whenever you receive allegations of workplace misconduct, an impartial investigation is critical. As attorneys with extensive experience in human resources, workplace discrimination, and litigation, Dizon & Shedden is uniquely positioned to assist your organization.