We all like to think that every one of our employees or co-workers is guided by a strong moral compass and is conducting themselves accordingly. In some instances, we might even imagine that a little office banter with sexual undertones is harmless, but the reality is that when no clear line is drawn on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, a slippery slope is often established in its place.
Sexual misconduct of any kind can lead to pervasive distress, loss of productivity, and ultimately loss of talent—as a toxic working environment leads precious innovators to look for healthier work environments elsewhere. Employers should also recognize that receiving one sexual harassment complaint may mean gaining oversight on what is ultimately only the tip of the iceberg.
The reality is that while 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, 58% of those who were harassed at work don’t file a complaint for fear of factors such as retaliation or disbelief. According to data gathered confidentially by Stop Street Harassment, as many of 43% of men have also experienced some sort of sexual harassment—so there’s no escaping that this is a problem that can impact anyone, and is ultimately one that we often don’t get a true sense of.
When it comes to receiving a formal complaint and gearing up ahead of investigating sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the workplace, there’s a lot to navigate. On behalf of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, responsibility in regard to physical and mental health, privacy, and legal rights all land in the hand of the employer. Meanwhile, for the organization itself, risk of retaliation, liability, and reputational damage hang in the balance. That makes what happens next something that must ready to stand up to scrutiny.
Turn to Corporate Investigations Services When Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
With so much at stake, investigating sexual harassment or misconduct means building a case that cannot be left open to any perception of bias. If a complaint should evolve towards litigation, an employer’s failure to fully undertake and document an impartial corporate investigation, or it’s failure to act decisively upon any complaint received may well end in liability. Information gathered might later become admissible in court proceedings, while a poorly judged step may damage the credibility of evidence. This makes turning to an external investigator the best way to safeguard the interests of both the organization and the individuals involved.
Hiring a private investigator with a proven track record for corporate investigations of this nature also means lifting the emotional burden of investigating a colleague—under what may be distressing circumstances—from your HR or leadership team. A professional who is seasoned at investigating sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace will not only be adept at discreetly and efficiently gathering the information necessary, but they will also be able to advise on every investigatory and reporting step from a legal standpoint, guaranteeing due process and exemplary action along the way.
The Opportunity to Be an Industry Leader in the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
While the occurrence of a sexual misconduct complaint may well leave any organization anxious about what lies ahead, choosing to step ahead of this issue is an action that can only be rewarded. Since the #metoo movement arrived, attitudes towards sexual harassment in the workplace have evolved, with 99% of employees successfully recognizing sexual harassment situations, and the vast majority supporting the fight against this type of workplace misconduct.
While this new era has created an environment in which many feel more able to speak up, statistics tell us that it is also in fact driving down incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, with EEOC actually reporting a drop from 2020 to 2021. This tells us that setting clear policies and demonstrating a safe environment for employees is a worthy pursuit. Of course, this is a transformation still in its inception—HRAcuity reports that only 15% of companies are on the case. Are you ready to establish your brand as one who lives by values that everyone can believe in?
Alongside outlining clear and easily understood company policies and delivering training across every employee tear, organizations are increasingly turning to corporate culture audits as a health-check for issues ranging from sexual harassment to discrimination, and even corporate theft and white collar crime. Taking this proactive step means getting ahead of problems before they manifest into costly or damaging incidents that warrant corporate investigations, litigation, or substantial losses. Better yet, it means forging and sustaining a thriving workplace environment in which employees can grow, flourish, and drive the bottom line. If you’d like to learn more about corporate investigation services in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace—or the phenomenal results that corporate culture audits can yield—the team at Lauth Investigations are ready to take your call.
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.
5 Ways Private Investigators Benefit Human Resources
Our brains are one of the defining parts of our anatomy that makes up who we are as humans, but without vital organs such as the heart, we cannot live to become who we were meant to be. The brain sends signals to the heart to pump vital fluids and maintain the health and fitness of the body in order to grow and develop. In a capitalist world of business and commerce, if a CEO is the brains of a company, certainly Human Resources is the heart. Before any employee can enter a company, they must go through HR, just as vital fluids must pass through the heart before reaching their destination. It is important for Human Resource representatives to be armed with knowledge to allow them to bring in the best and the brightest to contribute to their company. One of the ways HR can rest easy in their hires is by retaining the services of a private investigator to voire dire the candidate base, maintain a healthy work environment, and prevent employee fraud that would damage the company.
Hiring the Right People
If proper precautions are not taken, hiring a candidate who might soon be terminated can be very costly to a company. Even if the employee is making minimum wage at the time of their termination, a study from the Society for Human Resource Management estimated it can cost as much as $3500 to replace that employee. The higher the level of employment, the costs exponentially increase, with other estimates claiming that it could cost as much as 150% for middle-level employees and 400% for high-level. Therefore, hiring the correct employee on the first attempt can be critical. As the heart of the company, Human Resources are often overwhelmed with a myriad of tasks, which can make the vetting of potential employees fall lower and lower on the list of priorities. This is where the services of a private investigator will prove prudent. Private investigators can use their time and skills to perform background checks on employees, painting a clearer picture for HR representatives. This helps ensure the hiring of proper employees, which minimizes turnover, and greases the wheels of progress within a company.
Exposing Workplace Theft
A report by CBS News estimated that a typical business will lose 5% of annual revenue to employee theft. Employee Theft Solutions, a division of the Shulman Center for Compulsive Theft and Spending, has estimated that nearly one third of all corporate bankruptcies were the result of unfettered employee theft. Even more alarming, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimated that 75% of employed persons will steal from their workplace or employer and will continue to steal if not exposed. It is a staggering statistic that should garner scrutiny from the Human Resources department with regards to their own workforce. Bearing in mind that investigating the behavior of a single prospective employee could be very time consuming, imagine having to vet an entire staff in order to uncover a source of theft. With an average of 3-5 cases at any given time, private investigators have the time and access to resources that can help expose the perpetrator of theft in a company. In addition to checking security systems and interviewing witnesses, private investigators also have the advantage of being able to conduct undercover investigations in order to squeeze out the source of theft. These investigative services can help reinforce the wall that prevents employees from devastating a company with fraud.
Fraudulent Compensation Claims
A significant portion of the costs incurred annually by employees is attributed to worker’s compensation claims. As a member of Human Resources, it might be easy to trust every single worker compensation claim that comes through the pipeline. After all, yourself or a former superior may have hired the employee, and you trust one another’s respective judgement. However, it is naïve to assume every claim will be legitimate. Worker compensation claims can cost companies hundreds of thousands of dollars per fiscal year depending on the volume of claims. A recent statistic by the Employee Benefit Research Institute in 2014 estimated that it can cost companies as much as a $1.00 per every $100 of employee wages, which can add up very quickly. This is where a private investigator can be a godsend amidst pending litigation. Often in worker compensation claims, interviews are required with the claimant to get their version of events that led up to their injury. While members of Human Resources have many gifts, they may not be skilled in extracting the truth from an employee who might be committing a fraud. Private investigators work to get to the truth every day and can assist the HR department in protecting themselves within the letter of the law. With the resources and due-diligence of a PI vetting the claim, businesses can rest easy knowing that the claims coming through the Human Resources department have merit.
HR Investigation Integrity
With the growing problem of drugs in the workplace and the rise of the #MeToo movement, businesses are having more use for private investigators than ever before. A recent article by CNBC details how a rising number of businesses are hiring private investigators in order to identify predators in their workforce before an employee comes forward with claims of sexual harassment, discrimination, or threats.
“An ounce of prevention is really worth a pound of cure here, because the cost of potential drop in stock price, legal and PR cost — the possibility of regulators getting involved and regulating industries — they are enormous compared with the relatively modest expenditure in hiring folks like us in order to rule out this behavior,” said Nardello, CEO of Nardello & Co.
In addition to identifying these problems to save a business money, it is also imperative that any internal Human Resources department conducts a thorough, prompt, and lawful investigation. Just as private investigators can use their skills to identify predators, they can also protect any HR personnel from compromising the integrity of an investigation, protecting them from legal liability.
An Objective Eye
Human Resources: It’s in the name. Whenever there is a problem between coworkers, a discrepancy in payroll, or simple maintenance of a healthy work environment, the human resources department is where employees will turn to address issues in their job. And while members of HR do their best to solve these problems from an administrating and mediating position, they cannot always be objective. After all, HR is just as much a part of the workforce as any other employee, and all of the same implications of camaraderie and friendship can apply. By the same token, HR can also have negative relationships with the subjects of their investigations, which can influence their judgement. These biases can have a toxic effect on office morale, and employees might not feel as though they can trust Human Resources to be fair and impartial when addressing workplace issues. When there is no trust, the important relationship between HR and other departments breaks down. As is the case with many investigative scenarios, a private investigator is always the perfect second set of eyes to have when examining these issues. Without a stake in the outcome of any internal investigation, private investigators can remain unbiased as they conduct interviews, collect evidence, and reach a conclusion in regards to the veracity of any claim.
It is important for any Human Resources department to safeguard themselves against the many challenges—both internal and external—they encounter on a daily basis in their company. Retaining the services of a private investigator can go a long way to taking pressure off an already busy department, as well as providing an objective third-party perspective that will positively benefit companies as they grow and develop. If CEOs are the brains of a company and the Human Resources department is the heart, certainly a private investigator would be the immune system; identifying problems and staving off possible infection in order to maintain the health and productivity of any work environment.