Protecting Your Business
Nearly 20% of American employees have experienced or witnessed some form of harassment at work. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, up to 85% of women report that they have been sexually harassed at work. Almost 30% of workers have observed at least one compliance violation, and the same number reports being pressured to compromise ethical standards in the workplace.
The data is clear: misconduct and inappropriate behavior is far too common in the workplace. And these behaviors are often illegal, exposing businesses to steep legal penalties, wasted time, and lost talent. Companies are more likely to avoid legal liability and the business costs of employee misconduct—and ensure they are protected when such issues arise—by engaging independent, external consultants to conduct thorough workplace investigations.
Our team can fully address your business’ investigation needs by drawing upon our years of expertise in litigating employment claims and guiding employers as they respond to employment and business challenges. We offer a full slate of workplace investigations, including but not limited to the issues below.
A Proper Investigation Is Beneficial
Many employers wonder when to conduct an audit or investigation, and how exactly to proceed. The experts at The Prinz Law Firm have experience helping businesses make such determinations and leveraging best practices that we tailor to each employer’s particular needs and concerns.
Promoting a Healthy Workplace
Swiftly responding to complaints of misconduct or impropriety with a workplace investigation tailored to your business’ unique circumstances helps to promote a healthy workplace culture and communicates that you value your employees. In addition to rectifying an employee complaint, the positive byproducts of investigating employee misconduct include:
- Fostering a culture of transparency and accountability.
- Employees seeing that you take their concerns seriously.
- Employees feeling safe, secure, and respected at work.
- Employees observing the company following its own policies and procedures, as well as the law.
Avoiding Legal Liability
Conducting a thorough workplace investigation in a timely manner after becoming aware of potential misconduct can save your business time, money, and a poor reputation. If an issue progresses, especially to litigation, the negative effects of not investigating early and properly will become clear. Some adverse effects include:
- Legal liability: failing to properly investigate or to take appropriate remedial action can leave your company open to legal liability and prevent it from valuable legal defenses in litigation.
- Costly legal fees for counsel, expert witnesses, and litigation-related court and arbitration costs.
- Settlement costs to resolve litigation related to workplace harassment.
- Increased insurance premiums following payments on covered claims.
- Additional litigation: current or former employees may file copycat claims now that someone has paved the way.
Minimizing the Threat of Bad Actors
Workplace bad actors can create a host of headaches for any business owner or management team. A thorough workplace investigation into complaints of misconduct or impropriety can help reduce the personnel and business costs that bad actors pose, such as:
- Distracted and distressed employees: victims and witnesses of a bad actor’s behavior are often distracted from work responsibilities, have higher absentee rates, and suffer from psychological harm.
- Lost employee time: workers may avoid work or work duties as a result of a bad actor. If an issue progresses to litigation, employees may be subjected to interviews, depositions, and hearings as witnesses.
- Lost management time: managers will have to spend valuable time investigating and responding to complaints of bad behavior, rather than on the functions of the business.
- Growing negativity: negative behavior tends to beget more negative behavior. If harassment, discrimination, and retaliation are left unchecked, they tend to spread within an organization.
- Reduced productivity and creativity: companies that allow bad actors to thrive experience reduced creativity and innovation, dysfunctional teams, and diminished ability to attract and retain talent.
- Reputational losses: if your business becomes known as a safe haven for misconduct, current employees will leave, potential recruits will not join your organization, and you might even attract bad press.
Oftentimes, it is best to welcome independent, external counselors to perform your workplace investigations. Doing so reduces the potential for bias and ensures best practices are being followed. This may not be practical for all organizations, however. If you prefer to conduct an internal investigation utilizing your own personnel, or if the issue does not warrant external assistance, we can consult with your business regarding how to proceed, including:
- Reviewing best practices for conducting investigations.
- Designing an investigation plan, including identification of interviewers and witnesses.
- Discussion of investigation results, including implementation of disciplinary processes.
- When and how to communicate the results of the investigation, and to whom.
Contact Our Team of Workplace Investigation Attorneys to Schedule a Free Consultation
Call (312) 345-6603 or submit an online contact form today to ask about scheduling your workplace investigation.
DiscriminationWhen an employer becomes aware of an accusation of discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, religion, or any other protected category, it needs to get to the facts fast. Doing so requires the sensitivity and strategy our firm provides.
Sexual HarassmentOur examination of employee complaints will involve a thorough review of testimony and available evidence. We will help you support potential victims while simultaneously maintaining an objective investigation.
Workplace BullyingOftentimes workers are intimidated, insulted, demeaned, or shamed by supervisors or colleagues. This kind of bullying detracts from a healthy and productive workplace culture, and may incur legal liability. An investigation can help determine the severity of such bullying and the best way to respond.
RetaliationNothing reduces trust in a company and its policies more than retaliation for reporting bad behavior. We investigate complaints of reprisal for reporting discrimination or harassment under Title VII or the Illinois Human Rights Act. We also investigate others forms of retaliation, such as that prohibited by OSHA, SOX, or other state, federal, and local statutes.
Whistleblower ComplaintsYour business will want a thorough investigation whenever an employee reports illegal activity, especially if a report is made to a government agency, or if an employee refuses to participate in unlawful conduct. Identifying the issue early on can help avoid costly litigation down the road.
Equal Pay ComplaintsClaims of unequal pay can be toxic for a workplace, giving the impression a company has engaged in gender-based unfairness and reducing trust in leadership. A swift investigation into such claims can help your company make any needed corrections and message to employees that unfair pay discrepancies are not tolerated.
Workplace Drug and Alcohol Use and AbuseEmployees may raise complaints of unfair discipline, including suspension or termination, as a result of an alleged inability to perform a job connected with drug or alcohol abuse. This issue is complex, especially when tied to substance use outside of work, such as medical marijuana use.