An internal investigation is an important mechanism an organization can use to address an allegation of wrongdoing, determine legal liability, identify individuals or parties with culpability, comply with regulatory requirements, develop corrective measures and enhance operational efficiencies. Buckner is pleased to continue its blog series highlighting best practices, strategies and techniques that can be used by organizational leaders and counsel during an internal investigation. Today’s post will discuss questions to ask when deciding whether to conduct an internal investigation:
The decision to conduct an internal investigation is never an easy one since the average mid- to large organization receive numerous allegations of wrongdoing or misconduct every week. Often decisions are made to devote the organization’s limited time, money and resources only to situations requiring immediate and thorough fact-finding. Thus, the decision to conduct an internal investigation is a no-brainer when an employee or third-party discloses the allegation in a signed communication or during a face-to-face meeting, but becomes more challenging when the organization receives an anonymous letter or unsigned note and very difficult if the allegation surfaces from a rumor or gossip.
Attorney Susan Bickley, in a July 31, 2013, presentation, Employee Investigations: “Best Practices”, outlined some questions that can be asked when faced with challenging and difficult situations:
- Does the matter involve allegations of serious workplace misconduct ?
- Is the rumor or tip corroborated by other information?
- Has victim of the rumor or tip asked for an investigation to “clear his/her name”?
- Who is the subject of the rumor/tip (and could the rumor or gossip itself be considered harassment or retaliation)?
- Do less intrusive or disruptive methods exist to address the situation?
- Ask yourself if your reason for not investigating sounds objectively reasonable and can you explain it?
Contact attorney Michael L. Buckner (+1-954-941-1844; firstname.lastname@example.org) for additional information on conducting internal investigations and intelligence-gathering.