Workplace investigations have always been a routine occurrence for many employers, as they manage issues involving potential misconduct and policy violations. Many of our attorneys advise clients in connection with—and conduct—workplace investigations involving allegations of harassment, discrimination, retaliation, bullying, theft, and many other potential violations of company policy.
Over the last several years, the cultural and political climate has drastically shifted. With these changes, employers are receiving even more complex and nuanced internal complaints involving issues such as pattern and practice discrimination, systemic racism, reverse discrimination, and institutional inequities. We have seen a significant spike in the demand for assistance in guiding and handling these challenging investigations.
Our Workplace Investigations and Organizational Assessments practice group can dispatch the appropriate attorney, or team of attorneys, to assist clients with their investigations—and can help clients navigate thorny challenges and issues, including those relating to attorney-client privilege.
Recent cultural and social developments, such as the #MeToo movement, George Floyd, BLM, and COVID, have raised issues of first impression—from an investigation and litigation standpoint—which sometimes require an increased level of knowledge and experience to handle appropriately. Particularly in today’s environment, a single (or multi) complainant investigation sometimes arises from or uncovers allegations of systemic or organizational problems that need to be addressed. Claims of pattern/practice discrimination, institutional/cultural inequities, unconscious bias, and ineffective complaint handling often require an in-depth analysis of a company’s policies and practices. These organizational assessments are detailed and offer actionable, tailored recommendations as a strategic plan for addressing large scale perceptions and institutional best practices—hopefully before they lead to potential legal exposure.
Our practice group members have the requisite background and experience to conduct a comprehensive review of workplace practices and policies from both a practical and a legal standpoint to bring the right resources to bear for a given situation. Employers need to know if employees are experiencing or perceiving toxic cultures, systemic inequities, and/or ineffective policies before they become a PR nightmare or a major exposure risk—and our practice group attorneys are at the ready to assist when these issues come about.
Experience That Matters
Our attorneys draw on investigation and litigation experience to navigate complex complaints. Knowing how issues will be evaluated by a trier of facts—a judge or jury—can be critical. Moreover, we assist employers in evaluating whether the attorney-client privilege applies to investigation communications. Also, it may be beneficial for employers to utilize outside investigators to help to avoid a perception of bias.