Are You Ready to Conduct an Effective Workplace Investigation?

Are You Ready to Conduct an Effective Workplace Investigation?

Kit Goldman & Memo Mendez

Word Count: 563 words
Time to Read: 1-2 minutes

If there is a shred of doubt, take action NOW.

Training on effective, lawful investigation is essential for managers who may play a part in conducting a workplace investigation.

Failure to properly, effectively investigate claims of employee misconduct is a litigation minefield.

Case in point: $6 million in damages and fees paid by the Baker & McKenzie law firm in Weeks v. Baker & McKenzie, largely because the employer failed to properly follow up on harassment complaints. That’s the merest tip of the iceberg.

Proper investigation and informed resolution of complaints are powerful tools for keeping nasty situations from becoming lawsuits.

If, perish the thought, there is litigation the quality of your investigator and investigation will be deciding factors in the outcome. This truth has been affirmed in numerous rulings all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s a small sampling of issues you are likely to be challenged on in court:

Is the Investigator properly trained?
Plaintiffs frequently challenge the training and education of the investigator.

Was the investigation biased?
Investigators ideally should have no investment in the outcome and be free to reach appropriate conclusions.

Did the employee being investigated have a reasonable opportunity to be heard?
This is critical. The investigation must utilize proper procedures to afford a fair opportunity for parties to present their positions.

Were the investigator’s conclusions reasonable?
Investigators don’t just collect facts. They must evaluate them properly and come to reasonable conclusions.

Was the investigation properly documented?
A key goal of the investigation is creating clear, complete documentation showing:

  • The investigation was performed properly
  • Conclusions are fair
  • Prompt, appropriate remedial action was taken

Is the investigator qualified, and prepared to recommend appropriate remedial measures?

Investigators must have the necessary expertise to decide how best to prevent misconduct from re-occurring. Investigators must also be knowledgeable on myriad legal issues, such as privacy rights, to avoid setting off a legal landmine.

So, how do you prepare to confront this daunting task? How do you give managers the needed expertise to conduct a proper investigation, draw appropriate conclusions, and make the right recommendations for remedial action?

Frankly, there is no better way to learn about investigation then to DO an investigation.

The Effective Workplace Investigation course (EWI) through Wolf Management Consultants is a highly experiential, immersion-type 2-day course often compared to going on maneuvers with live ammo!

The 6-person training team is comprised of some of the nation’s top employment law attorneys and facilitators who are also professional actors. Under close guidance of the attorneys, the participants

  • Explore the criteria for initiating an investigation
  • Plan an investigation
  • Conduct an investigation (including witness interviews and evidence gathering)
  • Document the investigation
  • Write an investigative report
  • Make recommendations for remedial and disciplinary action
  • Defend the investigation in a mock trial

There are so many things employers can’t control. Even in top quality work environments, misconduct may occur. The law recognizes this. However, employers do have control over how complaints are investigated and resolved. They have a duty to do it properly.

Now is the time to make sure your managers are prepared to take the stand and explain to the jury how your company did everything right.



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