Investigation

The dynamics in workplaces are complicated. When people come together with all their inherent biases, cultures, preferences, and styles, it is reasonable that problems occur. In a modern workplace, overlying profit motives, quickly evolving social norms, an increased spectrum of workers’ ages, and the pace of change make occasional disharmony inevitable. Workplace disharmony is also very expensive and legally precocious. Forward-minded employers realize that their profits, innovation, and future are very much determined by the dynamics within their workplace.

What is a Workplace Investigation?

At its core, a workplace investigation is an investigation into a situation within a workplace. Employers utilize the process of workplace investigations to varying degrees and for various reasons. Many employers conduct a workplace investigation because they recognize that discord amongst employees leads to an intolerable decrease in productivity. Additionally, all employers must conduct investigations into allegations of illegal behaviors, such as discrimination and hostile work environments. Other employers conduct workplace investigations simply because they have been unable to make sense of their employees’ bickering through informal processes. The workplace investigation industry is not new, and the duty to conduct investigations is so entrenched that the EEOC and some state workforce commissions are doing their part to help educate employers about their duty.

When employers conduct workplace investigations, the format of the investigation should match the seriousness of the matter being investigated. For example, a non-specific gripe made in passing by an employee may only warrant a manager following up with the employee in an informal way. Conversely, allegations that allude to illegal conditions or fraud mandate that an employer respond in an impartial, formal, and systematic manner. In any case, the employer’s response to employee allegations should provide insight into restoring workplace harmony and litigation avoidance.

Lynch Law Firm, PLLC provides expert, neutral, independent, third-party investigations aimed at litigation avoidance. Our investigations are always formal but are scaled to the culture of the company and the seriousness of the allegation. The process that Lynch Law Firm, PLLC utilizes is consistent, well tested, and fair. Each investigation culminates in a report that allows human resources to manage their work and involved attorneys to make decisions regarding the risks of a situation.

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Employee Discrimination Statistics

Workplace investigations can involve a number of issues, including employment discrimination or harassment, fraud, and theft. Employee discrimination is one of the most common, as employees can file lawsuits against their employers for discriminating based on sex or race, and they can also file lawsuits based on retaliation, which occurs when an employer fires an employee for complaining to them about discrimination.

In 2013, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) found that retaliation was the most commonly filed claim for the 2012 fiscal year. Among this fact, they released many other statistics about employee discrimination, including:

  • In the 2012 fiscal year, there were 37,836 retaliation claims, 33,512 racial discrimination claims, and 30,356 sexual discrimination claims.
  • Retaliation claims accounted for 38.1% of all charges in 2012 and have been a top concern for employers since 2010.
  • The EEOC recovered the most money ($365.4 million) from the private sector and state and local government employers.
  • The EEOC mediation and conciliation program resolved 254 lawsuits in 2012.
  • The EEOC concluded their report emphasizing the importance of zero tolerance policies. If even small cases of discrimination are tolerated in the workplace, employees have enough fuel to file a claim.

Your Best Defense is a Proactive Approach

In many employment discrimination cases, the employee claims that they tried to voice their frustrations to their employers multiple times before filing the lawsuit. What may seem like a small matter to your business can be a huge one to your employees, and the worst thing you can do is to look the other way when employees voice their concerns. Consider the following statistics on employee discrimination, courtesy of HR Acuity:

  • Only 12% of U.S. employers act to eliminate workplace bullying.
  • 25% of workplace bullying cases are not investigated.
  • 48% of American adults report experiencing abuse behavior at work.
  • 1 in 4 women is sexually harassed at work.
  • Nearly 60% of human resource managers have seen violent incidents as a result of workplace conflicts.
  • 84% of senior business executives see favoritism in their companies.

If you think that your business is completely free of employee discrimination, it may be worth your time and effort to investigate further — before a current or former employee brings a legal investigation into your business.

Employee discrimination is just one of many factors that can lead to a thorough investigation of your workplace. Don’t wait until you have a lawsuit on your hands to make sure your business is protected. Contact Lynch Law Firm, PLLC today to prevent cases before they become lawsuits that threaten the livelihood of your business.

Austin, Texas Workplace Investigation Attorney

Natalie Lynch is committed to helping owners of private companies, including startups and small to mid-sized companies, navigate the lifecycle of change. She helps business owners create the right structures, contracts, and employment agreements to minimize business and employment risk factors. From entity formation to small business growth to expansion into the middle market, Natalie can help your business flourish. Contact Lynch Law Firm, PLLC today.