Workplace Investigations into Family-Run Organizations
Sept. 26, 2022
Even Small Family Run Operations Can Find Themselves in Need of a Workplace Investigation
According to federal law, all employers, regardless of the organization's size, are obligated to investigate allegations of harassment or discrimination. State laws parallel the concept that harassment and discrimination should always be investigated. When circumstances of this nature arise within the workplace, these instances can trigger the need for an unbiased and professional investigation. In addition to issues of harassment and discrimination, these situations may include alleged workplace abuse, inappropriate comments, hostile work environment, inappropriate Internet or social media use, theft of company property, fraud, policy breaches, and statutory violations. The complexity of these situations, and the risk of not managing them properly, can have severe repercussions for large publicly traded organizations, mid-size privately held corporations, and even small family-run operations.
Natalie Lynch, the managing member at the Lynch Law Firm, has years of experience guiding businesses of all sizes through every phase of a workplace investigation. One of her clients recently included a family-owned organization where a member of household management was accused of creating a hostile work environment. Obviously, this investigation requires heightened attention to the intimate nature of such workplaces and the risk of gossip in such a small group. Nonetheless, the investigation was completed with quickness and an exceptionally high return on investment.
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
Harassment in the workplace is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Harassment is unwelcome conduct based on race, ethnicity, religion, sex, gender identity, age, or disability. Harassment becomes unlawful where 1) enduring the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment, or 2) the conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would consider intimidating, hostile, or abusive. To be unlawful, the conduct must create a work environment that would be intimidating, hostile, or offensive to reasonable people. Any type of harassment in the workplace is a violation of federal law.
How to Address Allegations of a Hostile Work Environment
When an employee complains of a "hostile work environment," company management’s initial point of contact with the complainant is vitally important. The complainant must have the opportunity to state their case clearly, and the details of the issue must be carefully documented. When investigating allegations of employee misconduct, the company must take the necessary steps to address the issue.
The Lynch Law Firm's highly personalized and unbiased approach to workplace investigations is customized for each client based on their culture and the specific issues of the complaint they are facing. Regardless of the company's size, Natalie and her team work collaboratively with the management professionals within the organization to uncover the facts of the matter in a way that is discreet, impartial, and effective. The scope of the Lynch Law Firm’s investigative process includes:
Collecting various internal and external documents.
Conducting witness interviews.
Drafting of a final report.
The Most Common Mistakes
No matter what the size of the organization, companies often make the same kinds of mistakes when it comes to workplace investigations:
They fail to plan the investigation
They choose to ignore the complaint
They delay the investigation
They lose their objectivity during the investigation
They use tactics that are overly aggressive during the interview process
They fail to conduct a thorough investigation
They breach confidentiality with participants
They do not reach a conclusion
They do not create a written report
When You Need a Workplace Investigation
When critical issues occur within the work environment, The Lynch Law Firm will work with you to address the situation and gather all the relevant facts. In addition to identifying the problems that exist within the workplace, an investigation conducted by an accredited professional at the Lynch Law Firm can also help you avoid costly litigation. Conducting a professional investigation can also be an essential management tool for preventing a reoccurrence of a similar matter. Whether you have a publicly traded organization, a privately held corporation, or a small family-owned business, the Lynch Law Firm can collaborate with you and your management team to provide a thorough workplace investigation.
How Small Businesses Can Protect Themselves
Small businesses can protect themselves by following certain guidelines. Under federal discrimination laws, employers who become aware of alleged workplace discrimination and harassment are required to investigate the matter and take prompt and effective remedial action. To prevent these kinds of issues, small businesses should also have written policies in place that prohibit discrimination and harassment. The Lynch Law Firm can assist you and your small business by conducting timely and confidential investigations and developing policies that are part of your company’s employee handbook. The most important and immediate obligation is that your employees understand that you want to know about their concerns and how you want those concerns reported.
About Attorney Natalie Lynch
Natalie Lynch is the managing attorney of the Lynch Law Firm and a credentialed investigator and dispute resolution mediator with many years of experience working with businesses to help minimize employment risk factors. She is the only consulting and credentialed investigator in Central Texas who conducts third-party investigations into allegations of harassment, discrimination, hostile work environment, and other issues.
Call the Lynch Law Firm Now for a Free Consultation
Call Natalie Lynch at the Lynch Law Firm to schedule a free consultation. Together you can discuss problems that currently exist in the workplace and how to avoid issues before they happen. You can contact Natalie Lynch by calling 512 298 2346 or email her at email@example.com.
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