When Something Isn’t Right
Workplace investigations are an essential component of maintaining a fair and inclusive work environment. When clear policies are established, understood by everyone, and followed, an office can be a place that brings the best out of its employees.
Sometimes, however, problems develop that can create tension, distraction, and even harm in the workplace. For example, an employee might allege wage or hour violations, sexual harassment, racial discrimination, or an unsafe work environment. Alternatively, an employer may suspect theft or drug use at work.
As an employer, you want to discover issues as soon as they arise and take appropriate action to care for employees and restore a safe working environment.
A workplace investigation is often necessary to accomplish this.
What are Workplace investigations?
A workplace investigation is a formal process of looking into an issue that has arisen on the job in order to collect the evidence needed to determine what happened.
The goal is to come to an unbiased conclusion about the facts so management can determine whether any laws or workplace policies were violated, what actions to take in response, and how similar incidents might be prevented in the future.
Why might you need one?
Workplace investigations are appropriate whenever there are alleged violations of workplace policies or laws. Some common areas include:
- Sexual harassment
- Safety violations
- Substance abuse
For many kinds of allegations, including those concerning safety or discrimination, an employer even has a legal responsibility to promptly investigate. Legal requirements aside, as a conscientious employer, you want to take seriously allegations of anything that might harm your employees and act quickly to redress the issue.
How Ruben P. Ruiz PC Can Help
Companies will sometimes elect to conduct investigations internally if they have HR staff who are trained and skilled in this area.
However, there are several challenges to doing investigations well.
- Knowing when it’s needed: You don’t want to conduct an investigation when a simple conversation is enough. But you can be legally liable if you fail to investigate when it is called for.
- Knowing applicable laws: The laws and regulations that govern the workplace are complex. You need to know them well in order to know whether any of them have been violated.
- Knowing how to proceed: There are right ways and wrong ways to conduct an investigation. Someone who isn’t trained and experienced risks poor results and even legal liability.
- Getting an unbiased outcome: It is in an employer’s interest to find out what really happened but the biases of an internal team can get in the way.
Our attorney, Lisa Chapman, is a certified workplace investigator and a practicing lawyer who is an expert in employment law. She can provide the outside expertise you need to have confidence that your investigation will be conducted professionally, legally, efficiently, and successfully.