Over the years, the topic of workplace investigations has gained increasing importance in the HR and employment law world. Now, with investigations routinely making headlines, they have become a part of our popular culture as well. Most recently, the investigation conducted and conclusions reached on issues related to “Deflategate” have triggered national attention and controversy. Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension was upheld last week. In addition to the intrigue surrounding one of the country’s most well-known athletes, the issues raised in this story also provide great learning lessons for those of us who routinely conduct investigations.
A federal appellate court has ruled that an employer should not be held liable for fostering a racially hostile work environment in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. According to the court, the company promptly disciplined the workers for their initial misconduct and the employee did not adequately report the alleged resumption of the harassment. The worker’s failure to put the company on notice of the renewed harassment, the court found, was “fatal to his claim of employer liability.”