A workplace investigation is a process that employers use to gather information about allegations of misconduct. The goal of an investigation is to determine whether the allegations are credible and, if so, to take appropriate disciplinary action.

Workplace investigations can be triggered by a variety of factors, including an employee complaint, an anonymous or media report alleging any of the following types of misconduct:

  • Harassment
  • Discrimination
  • Retaliation
  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Violence
  • Workplace safety violations

When an employer receives a complaint or report of misconduct, they must first assess the seriousness of the allegations and then open an investigation. At this stage, known as the fact-finding stage, the investigator will gather evidence and interview witnesses. This process may involve reviewing documents, emails, text messages and social media posts in search of proof of the alleged behavior. The investigator may also interview the complainant, the alleged perpetrator and other witnesses.

Once the fact-finding stage is complete, then the investigator will analyze the data to determine whether the allegations are credible. If the investigator determines that they are, they will make recommendations to the employer about disciplinary action.

The type of disciplinary action taken after a workplace investigation reveals wrongdoing depends on the severity of the misconduct. For minor offenses — such as a first-time violation of a company policy — a verbal or written warning may be sufficient. For more serious offenses — such as harassment, discrimination or violence — a suspension or demotion may be warranted. In the most severe cases, termination of employment may be necessary.

When determining the appropriate disciplinary action, employers should consider a number of factors, including the nature of the misconduct, the employee's work history and the potential impact the misconduct will have on the workplace. Employers should also consult with their legal counsel to ensure that their disciplinary actions are legally defensible.

Hiring an independent law firm to conduct a workplace investigation can be beneficial for a number of reasons, including:

  • Neutrality — An independent law firm is not invested in the outcome of the investigation. This means that they can conduct an impartial and objective investigation.
  • Experience — Law firms have the experience and knowledge to conduct complex workplace investigations. They understand the legal implications of workplace misconduct and can ensure that the investigation is conducted in a fair and compliant manner.
  • Confidentiality — Law firms are bound by confidentiality laws. This means that they can protect the privacy of the parties involved in the investigation.

With offices in Pleasanton, Garcia & Gurney, A Law Corporation helps businesses throughout the Tri-valley area by conducting thorough workplace investigations. To discuss your matter at our office, contact us online or call 925-468-0400.