Workplace Investigation: Types of Employee Violations

Workplace Investigation: Types of Employee Violations

Most organizations are increasingly experiencing violations from their employees, and when necessary, a workplace investigation must be conducted. Even though some violations are more severe than others, they can harm the employee and the organization. They can be broadly classified under three major categories;

1.      Routine violation

A routine violation occurs when employees break the routines recommended for daily activities.  Most employees indulge in routine violations to save energy and time. They often believe that following the designated safety rules will slow them down. Unfortunately, many employees do not know the risks associated with routine violations when it is the leading cause of accidents and injuries in most workplaces. 

  1. Situational violation

Most employees indulge in situational violations because of sudden pressures at particular times. The right equipment may sometimes prevent employees from violating safety procedures. For example, in the absence of a scaffold, an employee may use a ladder when working at heights. Some employees indulge in situational violations because their jobs are boring and require repetitive tasks. A poor working environment that is cluttered can also increase the prevalence of situational violations from employees.

3.      Exceptional Violation

Exceptional violation often occurs when safety rules are broken to perform a new task or deal with an incidental event, like violations that occur during emergency procedures like explosions and fires. Nevertheless, anger, anxiety, and other emotions can also trigger exceptional violations. Examples of situations of exceptional violation triggered by emotions include sexual harassment, physical violence or threats to violence, spreading false rumors, using obscene language, cyberbullying, and destroying the belongings of a coworker or colleague. 

However, as an employer, it is your responsibility to conduct workplace investigations to uncover current or previous acts of violations by employees. There are many ways to conduct employee investigations on violations, but these steps will help you uncover both previous and current cases.

  1. Have a complaint mechanism put in place.

One of the best ways to help uncover violations in your organization during a workplace investigation is to put a complaint mechanism in place. But, you must ensure this mechanism allows employees to give tips anonymously. The truth is that some cases of violation go unnoticed because employees who witnessed them are afraid to come in front and speak. Therefore, you must also sensitize your employees about the existence of such a mechanism and encourage them to send tips on past and current acts of violation they have experienced. By so doing, you would uncover old and recent violation cases.  

2.      Have corporate awareness of what constitutes violation.

Some employees in organizations are ignorant about some forms of violation. Therefore, it makes sense to include sensitization in your workplace investigation plan as an employer. For example, you could seize the opportunity of an existing case of violation to sensitize your employees about all the forms of violation. This will not only help them identify future instances of violation, but some may also remember all the previous instances that went unreported due to ignorance.

3.      Gather evidence and analyze them.

Conducting employee investigations requires you and the investigation team to act promptly by gathering as much evidence as possible through interviews, emails, photos, videos, and records. Gathering these materials is one thing, and analyzing them correctly is another. You and the investigation team must ask follow-up questions to prove or disprove the complainant. In addition, the evidence gathered during the investigations may be a pointer toward previous acts of violation in your organization. If you get enough evidence that points to an earlier act of violation, you should investigate the matter and take the right actions. 

4.      Communicate effectively during the investigations.

Effective communication is crucial to a workplace investigation of violation. If you can communicate effectively with all the parties involved, you will likely extract valuable information that can be useful in uncovering previous and current acts of violation. However, a pro tip for effective communication is to listen carefully to your interviewees and ask them relevant follow-up questions to get as much information as possible.

5.      Provide the complainant with a healthy working environment.

While workplace investigations are ongoing, it would help if you provided the complainant with a healthy working environment. In addition, keeping the complainant safe will encourage him to cooperate with the investigations team for the employees’ overall well-being. Of course, cooperation will include citing past instances of violation and giving suggestions on how to prevent them from recurring. 

What Practical Steps Can You Take in Workplace Investigations? Serious Misconduct or Employee Threatening Behaviors

What Practical Steps Can You Take in Workplace Investigations? Serious Misconduct or Employee Threatening Behaviors

Every business owner knows the satisfaction that comes with smooth day-to-day operations and how sacred that kind of productivity truly is. But it only takes one individual—whether it’s a threatening employee or someone engaging in other types of serious misconduct—to turn everything upside down. This is why workplace investigations are an essential element to any thriving business model.

As a leader, if the buck stops with you in such a situation, it can be tricky to know what steps to take first. The choices you make in the coming hours and days will define how much disruption the rest of your team will endure and whether the situation is resolved quickly or starts to escalate. 

But don’t panic. It’s time to take a deep breath and get practical about remedial action. As seasoned corporate investigators, we support businesses navigating this kind of workplace misconduct every day. So discover here key questions that we encourage you to ask yourself as well as our tips on how to steer the course from here. Plus, if you need extra support, we’re only a phone call away.

Taking Action is Everything

Far too many employers who see an employee threatening someone on their staff or get reports of workplace misconduct bury their heads. They don’t want to deal with the repercussions of taking on someone who might play an essential role, or they are intimidated by the prospect of associated mounting paperwork. But this strategy is highly flawed, because if what’s unfolding before you now should later lead to litigation, your delayed response could be considered negligent, drawing substantial legal costs or fines.

“Is remedial action required, such as calling law enforcement, seeking medical support, or making a dangerous condition safe?”

Instead, any complaint of a threatening employee or other serious misconduct allegation should be taken seriously, documented, and acted upon immediately. You need to think of your position as similar to that of a “first responder”. Your staff—and your customer base if this later gets out—need to see that you have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to misconduct.

Safeguard Your Team

Unless you witnessed serious misconduct or threatening behavior yourself, you may not know the truth of any allegation just yet. However, there are steps you can take to safeguard your team until the facts come to light. Particularly if you’ve heard reports of an employee threatening, bullying, or harassing one of their colleagues, you’ll want to take steps to make the complainant feel secure.

“Should we suspend the accused individual for the duration of the investigation and does the complainant need further support?”

This may include moving their workstation, changing their working hours, or putting the accused employee on paid administrative leave. The latter becomes more relevant if it may be necessary to ensure the rest of your team also feel safe in the workplace. Taking temporary measures to ensure that all individuals involved are separated or removed from the premises where appropriate will mitigate the possibility of any further threat.

Gather and Preserve Evidence

Evidence gathering is key to all workplace investigations. This includes gathering documented evidence, CCTV footage, digital records, and—perhaps most crucially—complainant, suspect, and witness statements while memories are fresh. 

“What evidence do we need to preserve and whose statements do we need to take? If we uncover a possible crime, what is our reporting obligation?”

All investigative steps taken and interviews conducted must be fully documented including times and dates. Be sure to follow practical and legal guidelines, for example informing the witness of the investigator’s identity, that there will be no retaliation or reward for participation, and how their testimony may be used. The individual charged with conducting this process must be impartial—so free from any relationship with the parties involved.

Drawing and Acting Upon Conclusions

When workplace investigations are launched in response to a complaint about a threatening employee or serious workplace misconduct, the diligence and integrity of their totality are what will ensure a solid conclusion. When every step has been taken by the book, the employer can feel confident to pursue disciplinary steps or enact a dismissal, however, it is important to remember that the story doesn’t always end there.

“Do we have a media response prepared if necessary and what are our policies on external communications?”

Particularly when a threatening employee is let go, it is always best to be prepared in case they bring a wrongful dismissal claim against your company. When prepared for worst case scenarios, any boat rocking can be minimized. You can preempt anything that may impact public perception and have your team ready if a legal issue is raised—all while hoping for the best, which is of course a return to smooth and satisfying productivity.
Do you need impartial and expert support in mounting workplace investigations following serious misconduct or due to a threatening employee? The corporate team here at Lauth Investigations International specializes in conducting swift, discreet, and professional investigations and are ever-ready to guide you through the process. Reach out today to learn more about the various ways in which we can assist.

Workplace Investigations and How They Can Assist With Bullying or Violence in the Workplace

Workplace Investigations and How They Can Assist With Bullying or Violence in the Workplace

What’s the best way to get your team to thrive and drive profits? According to 94% of entrepreneurs, when it comes to achieving success, establishing a healthy culture at work is vital. Employees should feel comfortable, confident, and psychologically safe in order to do their best work. However, bullying and violence in the workplace are at epidemic proportions in America. Could it be happening among your employees too?

Back in 1998, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management acknowledged bullying as a form of workplace violence. So, whether we’re talking about attacks that are physical or purely psychological in nature, it is clear that preventing workplace bullying and violence is a core duty for every organization.

Despite this shift in perception, research reveals that 79% of working professionals have indirectly experienced or witnessed bullying or worse at work. The associated emotional and physical toll plays out across the lives of those involved and the bottom lines of the businesses dropping the ball. So, what can you do to stop violence and bullying in the workplace in its tracks? An expert corporate investigator is an ideal collaborator to stamp out these issues at their root and restore corporate culture to its destined strength and capability.

Leveraging Workplace Investigations to Prevent Bullying and Violence

The risk of workplace bullying, assault, and other forms of violence can be minimized when employers take precautions. One of the best places to start is in raising general awareness and establishing a zero-tolerance policy. Did you know that 55% of human resources professionals do not know if their organization has a workplace violence prevention program? If your HR department could be nestled within that statistic, then it’s time to take action.

For companies where corporate culture has eroded and unacceptable patterns of behavior have become ingrained, sometimes setting new policy and even scheduling team members for related training can be insufficient to fully course-correct. In these instances, enlisting the help of a specialized corporate investigator can provide just the jolt required to finally turn the page on workplace bullying and violence.

A corporate investigations company can offer an array of preventative and reactionary approaches, allowing you to not only win the battle on violence in the workplace, but win the war too. These include:

Together, these resources can be used to identify vulnerabilities and opportunities to shift the status quo onto permanently higher ground.

Why Invest In Workplace Bullying and Violence Prevention?

The cost to pursue these kinds of prevention tactics may seem prohibitive, but research indicates that for every dollar a company invests in safety, they save somewhere between $3 to $5. After all, the financial drain that all forms of workplace violence represent for companies like yours include not only the untold losses in team productivity and staff turnover but also the potential for legal fees and even fines if a portion of culpability should ever land on your doorstep. 

In contrast, a safe and secure workplace with a synergistic team dynamic is one that will inevitably push profits to their potential while attracting the best future talent. These kinds of rewards are priceless. 
So there’s no reason to hesitate when it comes to designing a thoughtful workplace violence prevention program and drawing upon the resources required to implement it. If that means outside help is the best choice for your business, then the corporate team here at Lauth Investigations International is ready to provide the tailored support that you require. Reach out to us today to find out more.

Investigating Workplace Theft with a Private Investigator

Investigating Workplace Theft with a Private Investigator

Having worked tirelessly to build your company from the ground up, it is a bitter pill to swallow that an interior threat may ultimately undermine it. The harsh reality, however, is that the downfall of roughly 30% of failed businesses is tied to workplace theft of one kind or another. Far too many CFOs, CEOs, and small-business entrepreneurs peer only outward when trying to eliminate vulnerabilities. This can be a costly oversight, certainly, but also one that a private investigator can swiftly help to right

What Is Workplace Theft?

If your business seems to be bleeding out and you can’t locate the wound, there’s a good chance that workplace theft is the cause. This type of employee abuse comes in many guises, including inventory or equipment theft, skimming, fraud, and embezzlement. All too often, these crimes can bring a business to its knees when it aught to be soaring toward success.

The culprits in question may be core members of your ground team, trusted contractors, or even among your leadership. The longer these immoral actors are left to their own devices, the deeper a hole they may dig into the company’s profits and public credibility. The good news, however, is that the moment you become aware of the seriousness of the situation, action can be taken to plug the leak and remove the perpetrators once and for all.

To do this, you not only need to know about it when workplace theft is taking place, but you also need to identify who is behind it and how they are getting away with their crimes. Catching the thief in the act can be tricky for a busy HR or leadership team, but a specialized corporate private investigator will know exactly what to look for; how to trace the criminals and bring the facts to light. So, let’s look at exactly how the PI gets a handle on workplace theft

How a Private Investigator Tackles Workplace Theft 

There are two facets to the work of a corporate private investigator tasked with eliminating workplace theft. The first is to discover what drove the losses that have been accrued, gathering evidence of the crime and criminals so that justice can be served and the immediate threat eliminated. The second is to help you modify your business operations to ensure that this kind of trouble doesn’t raise its ugly head again.

To piece together the clues of workplace theft, whether recent or even still underway, the private investigator draws on a diverse skillset. Depending on the situation in your workplace, they may launch a surveillance operation or go undercover within your team. They can investigate the backgrounds and credentials of individual employees, dive into digital investigations, gather documented evidence, and interview witnesses. 

At each step in the process, the best interests of you and your business will be held front and center, with absolute discretion assured whenever and wherever it is called for—so much so that your employees only need know that the investigator is there if you want them to.

In addition to pinpointing what happened and how, a corporate private investigator can assist with establishing a new system of employee screening and background checks. You may ask them to run risk assessments of your on-site security, digital security, and daily procedures to weed out weak points. Finally, they can also perform a workplace culture audit to see if workplace theft is part of a larger picture of ill-health within your enterprise. 
Fundamentally, a seasoned Private Investigator with the specific skillset to tackle workplace theft from every angle can give you the tailored support you need to ensure your company’s future integrity. Are you ready to learn more? The workplace theft team at Lauth Investigations International are always happy to have a no-obligation chat about how they can assist, so get in touch today.

Launching Powerful Undercover Theft Operations In The Workplace

Launching Powerful Undercover Theft Operations In The Workplace

corporate theft

When times get tough, corporate investigations become indispensable. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses large and small have had to keep their wits about them in order to survive. Sailing close to the wind, cutting costs, and stretching resources have become the hallmarks of true-grit leadership—something worthy of celebration, no doubt, but also a reality that comes with a price tag of increased vulnerability to the perils of corporate theft.

Unfortunately for all, the present financial landscape means that theft is a temptation to which more people than usual will inevitably succumb. While it might be easy to imagine why people could feel motivated to take without entitlement under such circumstances, it is more vital than ever that corporations can act quickly to tackle all forms of theft—so that they can keep their businesses afloat, and their dedicated employees safe and secure.

Why It’s So Important to Turn the Lens Inwards

Whether you’re missing inventory, the numbers won’t crunch, or you’ve discovered that sensitive company data has fallen into the wrong hands, there’s a good chance that you’re bearing the brunt of corporate theft. How so? Because research indicates that as much as 90% of all significant theft-related corporate losses come at the hands of employees. Staggeringly, the U.S. Department of Commerce estimates that American businesses lose roughly $50 billion as a result of employee theft each year.

Whatever their motives and whatever their target, a thief in your midst will likely cover their tracks the moment they think their crimes have been detected. This can make undercover theft operations the most powerful type of corporate investigation at your disposal. When you’ve got no idea who’s to blame—or perhaps. more frustratingly, you’ve got a strong hunch but lack the evidence to prove it—a skilled undercover investigator is ideally equipped to efficiently and discreetly gather and document the information required to act.

What Types of Corporate Investigations Can Be Conducted Undercover?

Not all corporate assets are something that a person can physically lay their hands on. So, while some undercover investigations may aim to root out those responsible for stock disappearances, others may target time theft, corporate data theft, intellectual property theft, and corporate fraud. Adding yet more traction, an undercover investigation within the workplace can be combined with surveillance operations, the gathering of corporate competitive intelligence, data breach investigations, and many more forms of scrutiny, until a complete and clear picture comes to light.

When equipped with all the facts, your organization will be able to act quickly with the peace of mind that the chosen path of resolution is air-tight against legal scrutiny. An external corporate investigations collaborator will add an iron-clad layer of impartiality to the conclusions that lead what happens next. Any business operating with integrity should be able to boldly ride the wave of an economically challenging period without the need to look over their shoulders—it’s the job of a gold-standard corporate investigator to facilitate this.

Corporate Investigations Offer So Much More Than a Single Solution

When your gut is telling you that your organization is a victim of theft, it’s a tough truth that the scale of the problem may be worse than you imagine. Losses appearing on the radar can be a sign that the social dynamics within a workplace have soured, and corporate culture is reaching boiling point. While some corporate thieves operate alone, it’s important to be wary that entire theft rings can develop when toxicity is allowed to fester unchecked.

Trust is a vital ingredient for any thriving workplace, which makes removing those with bad intentions and re-building corporate culture the only route to prosperity when such situations arise. Whether your organization is experiencing the first signs of trouble, or is already in deep, expert corporate investigators can help you course-correct by conducting a corporate culture audit, delivering corporate security and investigations support, and providing in-depth corporate background checks as a protective stage of recruitment.
If you would like to talk through your suspicions with a specialist corporate investigator, the dedicated corporate team at Lauth Investigations is ready to assist. Learn more about the various ways in which we can support you, or contact us today for expert guidance and tailored solutions.

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

University Investigations: How Private Investigators Can Help

Unviersity investigations require independent investigators

It is not uncommon for university investigations to feature some level of noncompliance and the university not cooperating with police or law enforcement. An aura of austerity and secrecy develops as the top decision-markers close ranks and circle the wagons to protect the interests of the university. No one usually thinks of universities as corporations, but they do bring in billions of dollars per year throughout the United States, much of that cash flow coming from private donors whose interests must also be protected during the investigation. Private investigators can take the same skillsets that allow them to expose misconduct within a corporation and apply them to university investigations.

Corporate investigations vs. university investigations

University investigations are rather common, though the investigation type is not always the same. When it comes to intelligence operations, private universities as an entity are a proverbial garden of opportunities for private investigators to apply their trade. There are two principal pools where the crime and misconduct are found. There’s the student body, who finds time for socializing and partying when they’re not hitting the books. Crimes committed within the student body may not be easily closed, either because the students involved or the university itself are not cooperating. The other common pool of opportunity is in the university faculty. While a university is not strictly a corporation, they experience similar workplace environments and are subject to the same workplace dynamics as businesses or nonprofits. There’s harassment between coworkers, financial misconduct, other forms of fraud, bribery, and collusion. These are all opportunities for private investigators to apply their methodology in a way that can improve a university for both the faculty and the student body.

Sexual assault investigations

Anyone who has ever seen a Dick Wolf police procedural knows that one of the most common crimes associated with universities is sexual assault. RAINN, the country’s largest organization combatting sexual violence estimates “11.2% of all students experience rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation.” Sexual violence on campuses is pervasive and it is not uncommon for the university police to be ill-equipped or unwilling to help. InvestigateWest calls the phenomenon “a culture of indifference.” If the survivor then supersedes campus police and reports the assault to their local police department, a faulty investigation on behalf of campus police—either intentionally or otherwise—can severely impact the police’s investigation. This often leaves survivors with no recourse for justice, and are often compelled to continue attending classes in the same vicinity as their alleged attacker. This extends not only to student-on-student assault, but also between faculty and student, with even more devastatingly high stakes for the university as well as the survivor. Repeated instances in which the university ultimately shields the accused and displays documented negligence in properly investigating the survivor’s allegations can constitute a pattern of misconduct.

Violence, vandalism and theft

While sexual assault is one of the most serious and heinous crimes associated with campus life and work, there are other issues of student misconduct that require proper investigative methodology that campus police or local law enforcement might be ill-equipped to handle. Things such as theft, vandalism, stalking, and other forms of violence can also go unchecked if not properly investigated. When a victim has no recourse from other authorities, a private investigator can be the perfect professional to provide crucial context. Their proficiency in running comprehensive background checks and locating subjects, private investigators can make contact with elusive persons of interests in university investigations. Private investigators can go undercover, documenting behavior and actions that might otherwise be concealed. Private investigators also have an investigative edge over law enforcement. Though they are licensed and bonded by the states, private investigators are still private citizens. Young adults ages 18-24 typically have a great deal to lose in university investigations, including financial loss, loss of scholarships or grants, expulsion, arrest, and fallout with their families. This fosters a pattern of noncooperation with law enforcement in order to minimize consequences for themselves and their friends. Another critical factor is that underage drinking and illegal drug use are synonymous with campus culture, which could prompt additional consequences. However, private investigators have no powers of arrest, which can lead to the cooperation of subjects in university investigations. This dislodges any roadblocks in case progression, increasing the likelihood of a solution.

Faculty subjects in university investigations

Describing the impact of the crimes previously described become exponentially more devastating when you expand the pool of perpetrators to university faculty and staff. Furthermore, the level of noncooperation with investigating bodies when it comes to university investigations typically increases when it involves a staff member, and is proportional to their role within the university. The college admissions scandal in 2019, involving high profile defendants Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin, showed everyone how much bad press universities can get when misconduct is exposed on the national stage, and universities are invested in minimizing such exposure. They stand to lose endorsements, contracts, sponsorships, and drops in enrollment rates as students and parents refuse to participate in an application process that has proven to be financially rigged. Private investigators can apply the same investigative methodology used in corporate investigations and apply it to university investigations. Undercover operations, surveillance operations, witness location, and evidence gathering are all services that private investigators use to expose misconduct within organizations, and universities are no exception. In addition to the crimes previously described, employee misconduct in university investigations such as fraud, embezzlement, bribery, admissions fraud, racism, and sexual harassment.

Hiring a private investigator adds an additional degree of integrity to university investigations. Because private investigators are independent of the university and law enforcement, their findings stand up to a higher degree of scrutiny at the conclusion of an investigation and in a court of law. Because private investigators are not bound by jurisdiction or by a chain of command, they are usually better equipped to push back against noncooperation in university investigations. The private investigators of Lauth Investigations International are staffed by former law enforcement and military personnel with diverse experience in applying investigative methods to complex situations in pursuit of truth for our clients. We provide comprehensive reports and expert recommendations.

If you need a private investigator for a university investigation, call Lauth Investigations International today at 317-951-1100, or visit us online at www.lauthinveststg.wpengine.com.