Neutral Workplace Investigations
Workplace dynamics often lead to disputes that cannot easily be resolved through internal processes. When an employee complains of harassment or discriminatory treatment in the workplace that is based on protected categories, such as age, race, gender or sexual orientation to name a few, an employer has a legal duty to investigate those claims in a neutral, unbiased, and independent manner.
The workplace investigation process is an important risk management tool for employers when they are faced with a discrimination, harassment, or whistleblower complaint. If investigations are done properly, they can aid employers in avoiding lawsuits, offer employers affirmative defenses to alleged misconduct, and lessen damage assessments if there is subsequent litigation. Alternatively, if employers do not investigate complaints or investigate complaints appropriately, they may face greater liability in subsequent lawsuits and agency proceedings.
The integrity of workplace investigations is paramount and requires the use of an experienced, neutral third-party who is knowledgeable about the law and has honed fact-gathering skills. At Traub Law we have considerable experience with these sensitive matters and we are able to promptly and thoroughly gather facts, interview witnesses and make difficult credibility assessments so that businesses can find appropriate solutions to workplace concerns.
Prudent companies understand that a neutral workplace investigator:
- works as an objective, unbiased fact finder;
- can assist companies that do not have the appropriate resources to conduct an in-house investigation promptly or thoroughly;
- can assist companies where the conduct or concern complained of was allegedly perpetuated by very high-level employees within the organization;
- helps companies send a strong message to employees that it takes the complaint seriously;
- can be effective in getting witnesses to “open up” and provide important information than they would be reluctant to share with an in-house HR professional, in-house legal counsel or an attorney representing the organization;
- may preserve the company’s relationship with their outside employment counsel and protect against the possibility that the attorney will be called as a fact witness, or that the attorney-client and work product privileges may be waived should the matter proceed to litigation.
If your business has concerns about an employee’s allegations of discrimination, harassment or other types of illegal activities, contact us for help exploring investigation options.