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Understanding the Need for Workplace Investigations

June 13, 2023

In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape and social and racial justice movements, employers are increasingly recognizing the need for thorough workplace investigations. Workplace investigations are an essential tool for employers to maintain both a safe and inclusive work environment and culture and also mitigate potential legal risks. In this article, we will explore some of the reasons employers should prioritize conducting workplace investigations.

ADDRESSING ALLEGATIONS OF MISCONDUCT

Workplace investigations are designed to provide a structured process for addressing allegations of misconduct, including harassment, discrimination, retaliation, bullying, and other forms of inappropriate behavior outlined in the workplace policy and/or by law. By promptly and thoroughly investigating such allegations in a fair manner, employers demonstrate their commitment to maintaining a respectful and safe workplace. Conducting a proper investigation can also insulate or limit an employer’s exposure to liability.

Investigating complaints includes having an independent and trained workplace investigator gather evidence. This typically includes interviewing individuals and witnesses and gathering and considering all relevant facts to make informed decisions. Workplace investigations, when conducted properly, not only help address specific incidents but also sends a strong message that misconduct will not be tolerated, fostering a culture of accountability and professionalism, which in turn can contribute to an employee’s loyalty to the company.

PROMOTING A SAFE AND INCLUSIVE WORK ENVIRONMENT

Employers have an obligation to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees. Everyone is entitled to work in an environment free of discrimination and harassment. Conducting proper workplace investigations demonstrates to employees a commitment to this principle.

Workplace investigations are not always in response to a complaint. They can be conducted proactively to assess whether any patterns, systemic issues, or organizational shortcomings that may contribute to a hostile work environment exist. If so, the employer can take proactive steps to implement necessary corrective actions to help avoid future complaints. In turn, this helps create a safer, more inclusive environment that values and respects every employee.

MITIGATING LEGAL RISKS

In addition to creating a safe work environment, conducting workplace investigations is a key risk management strategy. By properly addressing complaints and taking appropriate remedial actions, employers can reduce the risk of lawsuits, legal liability, and damage financially and to their reputation. In the event of legal proceedings, a well-documented investigation can serve as crucial evidence to support the employer’s actions and decisions.

Expertise

Important Notice: The information contained in this Article is intended for general information purposes only and does not create a lawyer-client relationship. It is not intended as legal advice from Harper Grey LLP or the individual author(s), nor intended as a substitute for legal advice on any specific subject matter. Detailed legal counsel should be sought prior to undertaking any legal matter. The information contained in this Article is current to the last update and may change. Last Update: June 13, 2023. ©Harper Grey LLP 2023

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