From our base in the heart of central Indiana, members of the Lauth Investigations team periodically find ourselves heading out to support a diversity of corporate entities as they navigate a workplace discrimination investigation. For any business owner – be their enterprise small of vast – the idea that workplace discrimination might be festering is a dreaded one indeed. Under such circumstances, our dedicated private investigators are poised to help.
We all want to know that our employees feel valued and welcome, and that HR compliance is ever top-notch. However, despite the best of intentions, getting caught out by a workplace discrimination complaint is not uncommon. In these moments, what truly matters is navigating the necessary investigation that follows with diligence and integrity. Expert private investigators can provide just the skills and experience required to ensure that your investigative process doesn’t miss a beat, that justice is done, and that the reputation of your business is upheld.
The Many Forms and Faces of Workplace Discrimination
Working to help organizations in Indianapolis and further afield ensure best propriety practices, we do sadly encounter discriminatory behavior in many different forms. Fundamentally, workplace discrimination means curtailing career opportunities or negatively impacting the professional life of an employee or colleague based on their color, race, religion, national origin, age, sex, handicap, or marital status. While some workplace discrimination may be very much intentional, at other times, perpetrators may even be unaware that they are acting inappropriately or breaching conduct protocols.
Whether innocent or not, workplace discrimination can fall foul of both Federal and State employment and labor laws, meaning that consequences can be serious for perpetrators and their superiors alike. When driven by discriminatory factors, what might workplace discrimination actually look like? An individual being discriminated against may find themselves at a disadvantage in terms of salary, professional opportunities, or working conditions. They may experience harassment or victimization, and may be denied legally protected rights or be subjected to retaliation if they complain.
Remaining alert to indicators of workplace discrimination is vital for any organization, as is understanding the letter of the law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all individuals against workplace discrimination on the basis of religion, sex, national origin, race, or color. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 safeguards the rights of individuals with disabilities, while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
protects those over the age of 40 from age-related discrimination.
Advantages in the Decision to Hire a Private Investigator
Because of the gravity of workplace discrimination complaints, the decision to hire a private investigator can offer a multitude of protections and assurances. Self-conducting internal investigations of this nature can put a heavy strain on those who work alongside both the complainant and accused. This can lead to emotional fallout, a negative impact on team performance, and difficulty in ensuring the impartiality of conclusions drawn.
In contrast, an experienced investigator, seasoned in meticulously gathering evidence and questioning all parties with care and neutrality, can help to provide peace of mind to all who surround a workplace discrimination investigation. They can ensure the integrity of the investigation – offering guidance that will stand up to legal scrutiny, and even providing court testimony should the need arise.
For an employer of any scale, taking a clear and moral stance while demonstrating the capacity to conduct fair investigations is always a prudent move. Contemporary consumers and professionals alike look first to businesses who are forward thinking, with compassion evident as a core value. While a workplace discrimination complaint may seem like the worst that could happen, any opportunity – no matter how challenging – to elevate the way a business operates will ultimately prove valuable. The Corporate Investigations team at Lauth HQ in Indianapolis are ready to serve those in central Indiana and far beyond. Contact us to learn more about how we can assist today.
From HQ in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lauth Investigations provides a steadily growing umbrella of private investigator services; ranging from missing persons to custody issues for private clients, through to workplace investigations small and large within the business and corporate sphere. We draw on the talents of a diverse team with decades of experience across a spectrum of investigative fields. We also take pride in being optimally equipped to provide the very best private investigator to suit the unique challenge of each and every client. One of the ways we help corporations improve themselves from within is by helping them meet the burden of proof regarding sexual harassment.
Among such needs, over recent years many organizations have become acutely aware of the importance of swift action on sexual harassment in the workplace. The #metoo era highlighted not only the importance of safeguarding employee well-being through policy and awareness, but also the potential catastrophes that can unfold when incidents of sexual harassment pass by unheeded. For businesses or organizations in the Midwest either navigating issues of this nature for the first time or exploring how to prevent them proactively, we provide expert support. A private investigator from Lauth Investigations can help you demonstrate that your business truly takes the lead on this vital contemporary issue.
Spotting Sexual Harassment and Stopping It in Its Tracks
Incidents of workplace sexual harassment can take place within an organization of any size, and upon any step of the corporate ladder. Sexual harassment can be described as verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors. Its form can range from isolated incidents through to a chronic pattern of behavior. This might include the use of innuendos and double entendre, proposition and coercion, and intimidation or direct threats. It can also include unwelcome exposure to elicit material.
Not only can workplace sexual harassment risk emotional harm to employees, but also lawsuits of a civil or even criminal nature and potential damage to a company’s reputation. All of these factors make mobilizing on this all-important issue a must. So, how exactly can a private investigator from Lauth Investigations help an Indiana business navigate such a challenge?
Impartial Results and Expert Guidance
Whether handled by leadership within a smaller business, or an HR manager within a larger organization, internal sexual harassment investigations place a particular burden on even the most professional of teams. Those who work alongside both accusers and accused can find impartiality a challenge – also shouldering their own inevitable emotional fallout. In dealing with such a delicate matter, impartiality becomes all the more vital as conclusions drawn and actions taken may later be subject to legal scrutiny and litigation.
In contrast, the best private investigator for such circumstances will possess the training and experience to impartially draw out the information required to move towards resolution. Their in-depth understanding of legal obligations and strategic evidence gathering will ensure that investigation results are dependable in terms of safeguarding the organization, and reliable in terms of safeguarding the well-being of employees.
From Prevention to Resolution
For businesses in Indianapolis and across the Midwest, Lauth Investigations are on hand to undertake Corporate Culture Audits, supporting you in fostering a safe work environment in which your team can thrive. Should the need for a sexual assault investigation arise, we are ready to provide the best private investigator to lead a thorough, sensitive, and discreet investigation, ensuring just resolution for all. Private investigators from Lauth Investigations will uncover and document findings on your behalf, and are even adept at giving testimony when required – providing ultimate peace of mind. Whether you are located in Indianapolis, Indiana, or even further afield, our team are ready to support yours. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist in sexual assault investigations.
Employee misconduct in the workplace can have a toxic effect on morale and productivity, which often incentivizes employers to resolve the situation quickly. These days, there are clear benefits to getting out in front of any misconduct complaint as movements like #MeToo have employers scrambling to vet their workforce so they can identify predators before scandal or evidence of misconduct can become public. In a surveillance culture where both bad behavior and good behavior are fodder for a good viral news story, employers everywhere are starting to understand the value in properly handling a corporate crisis. But in their haste to resolve the situation, are employers handling internal investigations properly?
Regardless of the type of business and type of misconduct, (sexual harassment, drug-trafficking, theft, etc.) the first instinct where there is a whiff of employee misconduct is often to keep the information very close to executives. As with any investigation, the controlled release of information has an investigative advantage in identifying the true culprits of any misconduct. This is the beginning of employers remaining too close to the situation. It’s not unusual for a well-meaning employer to appoint themselves as the head of the investigation—but this presents a huge conflict of interest. As a person with a great deal to lose, the employer is, by their very nature, biased and an unbiased investigation is the foundation for anything built on an employee complaint. Without the use of an external investigator, the case loses integrity.
Hiring an external investigator, like a licensed private investigator, will bring a flattering layer of transparency to any workplace investigation. First and foremost, a private investigator is an independent third-party. Having no personal knowledge of the employees involved—and therefore having no preconceived notions about them—means they can truly approach the case from an indisputable place of objectivity. The employer’s personal knowledge of their employees disqualifies them from such objectivity. Whatever the misconduct du jour, they might never suspect their trusted personal assistant, their senior manager, or their business partner—all individuals with extensive access to company information and property. However, a private investigator will vet this list of possible suspects in search of the truth.
When an employer is unsure of how to proceed when investigating workplace misconduct, it seems like a no-nonsense solution to let the lawyers handle it. And it can often make sense, as they will be fielding any litigation that surfaces. In-house counsel might feel it’s under their purview for the same reasons, but this is very misguided. The lines of their capacities as both in-house counsel and investigator cross one another, thus creating another conflict of interest. While there are states like New York that allow attorneys to act as private investigators without a license to do so, this is still not recommended. Witnesses within the company will likely have anxiety about speaking to the company’s lawyer, and might not be as forthcoming with pertinent details. Leads suddenly begin pancaking into dead ends as nervous employees become less cooperative. Private investigators have the advantage in this situation, as they are not representatives of the individual’s employers in any capacity, and have no power to fire them. It’s the same advantage private investigators have over law enforcement because they have no powers of arrest.
The documentation provided by a private investigator is invaluable to workplace investigations. After all, many reports not handled to the satisfaction of the complainant often lead to legal action, the most common example being the more familiar story of sexual harassment in the workplace: An employee alleges sexual misconduct against another employee. Both parties are interviewed. The interviewer does not tape the interview nor take notes. After a shoddy investigation, the complainant decides to sue the company for negligence. Another common example is the case of an employee who is hastily terminated for FMLA abuse or malingering before the company conducts a thorough investigation.
Not only are paper and ink expensive, but filling out and preparing reports is time-consuming—time that would be better spent trying to improve your business. Private investigators keep meticulous records, just like law enforcement, of all witness statements, evidence, surveillance, and relevant information to the case. This will go a long way towards addressing the complaint after the PI has issued their solution. It’s a perfect package: The investigation is chronicled from beginning to end, all of the relevant information is accessible, and best of all, it was conducted, prepared, and presented by a completely objective, independent third-party. The same third-party can also offer testimony in any court case that might result from the investigation.
Whether you’re investigating sexual harassment allegations, drug-trafficking, theft, or any complaint of employee misconduct, make the proactive choice of hiring a private investigator. It’s the strongest first step you can take in any internal workplace investigation. From the beginning, the investigator will be an impartial, unbiased eye whose only loyalty is to the truth. This kind of due-diligence will go a long way towards demonstrating you, as an employer, have heard the complaint, taken it seriously, and are only interested in what actually occurred. The solution will not be based on pre-conceived notions of colleagues, or biased assumptions, but independent deduction and well-documented evidence. And even if the investigation comes to a less than amiable termination, the foundation laid by the private investigator will protect your business from litigation.