Long-Term Benefits Gained From Hiring a Neutral Investigator
There are many benefits of hiring a neutral investigator. The most impactful benefit is the facts are being determined by a neutral and independent third party. However, there are several long-term benefits that are also gained that extend beyond the investigation itself.
Neutral Investigator Recommendations Can Improve Company Policies and Procedures
When an investigation is handled internally, companies attempt to resolve the issue at the lowest level and in the quickest way possible. Simply closing the complaint may still leave major legal or policy issues unaddressed and the employer may continue to face liability.
For example, a complaint of sexual harassment in the workplace requires a thorough investigation. When an employee files a complaint of sexual harassment, an employer has a legal duty to investigate, stop any harassment that exists, and prevent retaliation. Sexual harassment or similarly unwanted behaviors may not isolated incidents. The likelihood of harassment increases if the company policies are unclear or the organization lacks necessary internal safeguards that ensure harassment victims can come forward in good faith without fear of retaliation.
A neutral investigator can provide informed policy and procedure recommendations based on what the investigation reveals. This will provide the company with long-term stability needed to effectively address these types of issues. In turn, the likelihood of complaints will be reduced as well as the likelihood that litigation will be necessary.
Company Trust and Reputation Is Enhanced, Both Internally and Externally
Businesses rarely survive for long if the company has bad employee morale or a poor reputation as a safe place to work. For example, Harvey Weinstein's Weinstein Company essentially imploded based on the illegal conduct that persisted for years. The media mogul allegedly engaged in multiple counts of sexual abuse and was charged with rape, and these accusations have embroiled the company. Four out of five board members resigned in July of 2018 just months after the company filed for bankruptcy. Additionally, the company has laid off nearly 40 employees. According to the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's civil lawsuit filed against Mr. Weinstein, enabling the media mogul's sex life was a "condition of employment."
To be sure, most levels of company misconduct will not rise to the extreme levels found in the high-profile Weinstein case, but the fact remains that the company turned a blind eye to wrongdoing for years, and public trust eroded as a result. More frequently, mistakes that can turn into scandals that erode public trust are blind spots for the company, not willful negligence or acts of criminal wrongdoing.
In these types of cases, the goal of a neutral investigator is to spot and fix these issues,. Doing so not only protects the employees, but it also protects the company from long-term damage that can destroy a company.
Businesses Can Resolve Issues Impartially and Save Money
A company may go to great expense to handle an internal investigation as the expenses can add up quickly. This is particularly true for smaller companies and businesses that may lack the large-scale departments and legal counsel needed to conduct an extensive investigation.
For these businesses, it can be tempting to cut corners and conduct a quick investigation that aims to put the issue to rest. However, such a choice can be disastrous, and employees may feel that their concerns are not valued or have their legal rights unlawfully trampled in the process. Choosing to hire an outside investigator who is equipped with these resources can save time and money.
Even for businesses with extensive resources, an internal investigation can give rise to suspicions of bias among employees, the public or government authorities. Whether your business is concerned with investigation integrity and impartiality, cost-effectiveness or both of these factors, relying on a neutral investigator's experience when legal concerns arise is often the right course of action.