Sexual Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace: The Benefits of Hiring a Neutral Investigator
When employees notify employers that workplace misconduct occurred, those claims and complaints must be taken seriously. Federal law and Arizona law creates high expectations for employers to investigate claims of misconduct against protected classes in the workplace in a thorough, efficient and impartial manner. Hiring a neutral investigator is one of the best ways an Arizona employer can make sure that these high standards are met. Here are just a few of the most important benefits employers receive by relying on an outside investigation.
Credibility Is Bolstered and Trust Is Earned
Part of how employers earn trust from the public and employees alike is by showing that problems are taken seriously. For example, look to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's willingness to answer nearly 600 questions from lawmakers about data misuse in April of 2018. While the appearance provided for comedic gold for meme creators, it showed Facebook wasn’t ignoring the problem.
Similarly, employers who need to investigate workplace misconduct can show they value truth over a biased internal investigation by choosing a neutral investigator. This earns the trust of employees as well because third-party investigators have a clear goal from the outset of the investigation to its conclusion.
Specifically, the investigator will collect facts and evidence to get to the truth of any and all complaints. This process conducting witness interviews, collecting documents and recordings, and following up on specific details and allegations. If an internal investigator or Human Resources conducts an investigation and interviews witnesses, these witnesses may have concerns about disclosing specifics or may feel they have already complained internally and nothing was resolved or they faced retaliation.
An objective, impartial third-party investigator is worth investing in to ensure the integrity and credibility of the investigation, particularly if litigation follows.
Internal Conflicts Can Be Avoided If Litigation Becomes Necessary
Suppose an employer is facing allegations of workplace retaliation against an employee who came forward with a workplace discrimination claim. Naturally, the employer will want to defend themselves against this accusation.
If the organization relied on an internal investigation, the objectivity of the investigation could be called into doubt. Such uncertainty could force an employer to waive attorney-client privilege over certain key discussions and details of the case. By using a neutral investigator from the outset, these risks can be avoided in a way that fully protects attorney-client privilege.
A Neutral Investigator Is a Necessary Safeguard When Accusations Are Publicized
It is a wise course of action for employers to keep workplace misconduct investigations and the evidence confidential, whenever possible. Accusations can, however, eventually become public for a wide array of reasons.
In the event an investigation or accusations of misconduct are publicized or are just known throughout company departments, confidentiality is no longer an option. Employers will improve public perceptions and show that they value the honest pursuit of investigative truth by utilizing a third-party investigator for misconduct claims that have become widely known.
Criminal Misconduct Warrants a Third-Party Investigation
Some forms of workplace harassment or misconduct may rise to a level beyond the violation of an employee's civil rights. In the event that possible criminal behavior needs to be investigated, an employer should rely on the services of an outside third-party investigator.
An investigation looking into criminal misconduct could potentially involve cooperation with Arizona or federal law enforcement. If the investigation is handled internally, law enforcement may be given reason to doubt the investigation can be carried out in good faith. By relying on an outside professional, these concerns are taken out of the equation altogether, which will show that the employer is not looking to interfere with criminal investigative work.
Tyler Allen Law Firm, PLLC is an Arizona third-party investigator and employment lawyer that makes sure the investigation is conducted impartially and fairly. Contact us to discuss how we help Arizona employers fully investigate claims of workplace misconduct with integrity, efficiency and transparency.