If you’re an employer, you need to be prepared for the possibility that an employee will complain about alleged illegal activity within the company. Promptly investigating the allegation not only protects the business and its shareholders, but shows that the company cares about its employees and takes their complaints seriously.
An internal investigation is an effective tool to help a company uncover illegal or unethical conduct in its workplace. It also gives the employer a chance to address and resolve the situation before it turns into litigation. Should the complaining employee end up filing a lawsuit, the employer’s defense will be bolstered by having conducted an effective investigation.
Not every complaint leads to a full workplace investigation. For instance, if the alleged infraction appears to be restricted to a single incident, the employer may decide that it can take appropriate action without launching a formal investigation.
If management deems a workplace investigation to be warranted, it should proceed without delay. In general, an investigation involves the following steps:
Choosing an investigator — There are several possible choices of investigator, including internal human relations or legal division employees, outside professional investigators and outside counsel. An investigator should be objective, possess factfinding skills and be knowledgeable of the subject matter.
Interviews — The investigator will interview the complainant, the person accused of wrongdoing and any witnesses.
Gathering of evidence — The investigator will collect any additional evidence, like text messages and/or e-mail messages regarding the alleged misconduct.
Findings of fact and recommendations — After conducting interviews and reviewing evidence, the investigator will issue written findings of fact and make recommendations on what steps the employer should take. Corrective actions can include suspension or termination of the accused employee, training for that employee or all employees, changes or additions to company policies and procedures or other appropriate measures.
Throughout the process, the complaint and the employer’s response must be kept confidential to ensure the integrity and effectiveness of the employer’s response. For guidance on conducting a thorough and reliable investigation, consult an experienced New Jersey employer defense attorney.
The attorneys of Barker, Gelfand, James & Sarvas, P.C., with offices in Linwood, Pitman and Marlton, have decades of experience advising and defending New Jersey employers. To schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys who are familiar with workplace investigations, call 609-601-8677 or contact us online.
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Barker, Gelfand, James & Sarvas, P.C. is located in Linwood, NJ and serves clients in and around Linwood, Somers Point, Ventnor City, Margate City, Northfield, Egg Harbor Township, Atlantic City, Pleasantville, Absecon, Pomona, Oceanville, Mays Landing, Egg Harbor City, Port Republic, Brigantine, Longport, We also serve Atlantic, Cape May, Gloucester, Cumberland and Camden counties.
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