Third Party Fact Finding Investigations
Hiring Wheeler Services as an investigator means that you, as an organization, consider misconduct as a serious matter. This demonstrates to workers that you want to find out what actually happened and will willingly accept the consequences. An outside investigator is an independent fact-finder who plays no part in any steps of discipline or prospective advancement opportunities.
The investigator arrives in the office using a well-defined and articulated role: to perform fact-finding, which includes collecting facts about a specific criticism and potentially any related complaints which may surface. That is it. We’re working in difficult times. Complaints are rising almost daily. HR departments are overburdened. Still, a complainant that has been overlooked for promotion months after the criticism may see things differently. We have met workers who engaged in internal investigations who stated that the inner investigator now “sees me as a problem or a complainer.” Most internal researchers are trained and ready for this. But whether real or perceived, it’s an issue.
Even if the inner investigator actually can separate what was said in the complaint, and operate going forward, participants will probably never be convinced that the internal investigator could “unhear” what was said and not be influenced by it. On the other hand, using an outside investigator allows the company to conduct a complete investigation while the company and employees carry on the business at hand without perceptions about the process weighing down the employee population. Contact us now. You and your employees will be pleased you did. If that internal investigator is also counsel for the company, representation on that issue will likely be problematic.
By using an external investigator from Wheeler Services, the emotion is carried out of the equation. Wheeler Services experienced investigators are independent of your organization, and that usually means no struggles in terms of representation exist.
Discrimination, like on the basis of sex, handicap, religion, race and age.
No organization, no matter how well run, is resistant to employee workplace complaints. If you use fewer than 50 workers or manage thousands, some form of criticism will inevitably be submitted at some point on your organizational existence. Employers can almost never go wrong by retaining a knowledgeable and experienced professional from outside the employer’s organization to conduct the investigation. Doing so can minimize both the perception of bias and the risk of an actual or perceived conflict of interest on the part of an internal investigator. Each case will vary based on the issues and the people involved. All workplace investigations will require neutral, unbiased research and investigators so that all parties are treated fairly and equally. In our varied expertise with for-profit and nonprofit organizations, such as colleges, churches, schools and ministries, we’ve seen complaints in an assortment of areas, such as: Slip and falls, sexual harassment, Exaggerated bodily injury claims, threat, Questionable Worker’s Compensation injury claims, workplace theft. Most investigations require an employer to act quickly. For this to happen, an employer needs sufficient resources, which can be a challenge. A third party investigator should be retained to ensure an investigation can be completely quickly and fairly. External investigators supply your firm credibility, freedom (confidentiality) protection and, most of all, protect against worker perception of any retaliatory actions by management.
When employees file a complaint about discrimination or harassment in the workplace, it’s critical that you, as an employer, take it very seriously and handle the complaint with special care. If the course of action you take is viewed as punishing the person for filing the complaint in any way, you may wind up facing a very expensive lawsuit. A worker who raises a concern is frequently poised to believe that the company will retaliate against them for filing a complaint. However, in our experience, most human resources managers and other authority figures don’t treat workers differently when concerns are aired about the business, or even about individual managers. Let’s allay your concerns. Reach out to us and lets talk about Wheeler Services being a trusted partner to help guide you and your team when a complaint arises.
An external investigator’s only obligation is that of a fact-finder. Why is this important? Because internal HR staff or management personnel would likely, when exploring, be seen as less objective than an external, neutral fact-finder. That means their investigation may never achieve the credibility and objectivity required to withstand later scrutiny, should the matter reach employment litigation.
Wheeler Services’s researchers are also well prepared for the eventuality of trial or deposition testimony. Whenever the Wheeler Services investigator is called, the company feels convinced since this investigator has conducted dozens of comparable investigations where, in some instances, policy violations were found to have occurred and, in others they didn’t. Our researchers refrain from using words like “we” and”us.” It becomes evident to both judge and jury that there is no relationship that could cause the investigation to be guided from the organization’s favor. An outside investigator does not represent the company, and their statements will be limited only to that which they heard in the investigation–nothing else. Conducting a quick, impartial and thorough investigation gives a solid affirmative defense to allegations of harassment and other misconduct, whereas when an investigation is performed by in-house or external counsel, a conflict might arise, should litigation ensue. If the organization wishes to use this investigation to show it did the ideal thing, a legitimate endeavor, it might find it has to reevaluate attorney-client privilege with respect to strategic conversations. Using an outside investigator gives a bright barrier separating those sensitive talks from the investigative process, so privilege can nevertheless be preserved.