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There is a wide variety of events that could trigger a corporate investigation. Perhaps an employee files a sexual harassment complaint against another. Perhaps a whistleblower brings attention to a pervasive internal problem. Whatever the cause, it’s up to leadership within the corporation or organization to ensure that the problem is addressed. While some entities have the budget for an internal investigation team, the investigation itself still places a strain on a business and its resources.
When you think of corporate investigations, you might not immediately picture a private investigator has the lead of that investigation. Private investigators have a professional reputation for photographing a cheating spouse’s infidelity and following people to document their movements. However, the skillset of fact-finding and lead development is a comprehensive tool chest that allow private investigators to apply many of their services to corporate intelligence and corporate investigations.
Internal Corporate Investigations
It is common for large corporations to have an internal team of investigators dedicated entirely to addressing internal corporate issues. When there are claims of misconduct against a fellow employee, or when there are repeated instances of internal theft, these corporate investigators will be called on to find the source of the problem. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, many corporations like Microsoft made public statements that promised there would be major investments made in their internal investigation teams in order to better serve their employees with internal complaints. However, corporations of smaller sizes may lack the resources to implement a team dedicated to corporate issues.
Internal investigation teams are a great way to easily facilitate these investigations within the organization. Keeping corporate investigations internal obviously has its benefits—to begin with, internal corporate investigation teams are agents of the corporation. These corporate investigators are highly familiar with the business and its operations. These corporate investigators are typically full-time employees of the corporation and can pursue an investigation in the best interest of their employer. Perhaps the most attractive facet of internal corporate investigations is that the investigation is kept in-house and away from media attention. All of these factors certainly make internal investigations appear like the most attractive option, but internal investigations can have disastrous consequences for a corporation that can exponentially grow.
After all, an internal team of investigators is still internal. Despite the quality of any investigation within a company, the respondent to any legal action can claim the business or corporation was not objective in their investigation, because the investigators had a stake in the outcome of the investigation as employees of that business, particularly in cases where an employee is fired for misconduct on the basis of such an investigation. When a corporation contracts internal investigation out to a private investigator, they can expect an extra layer of integrity and objectivity to be baked into that case. A private investigator’s independence and autonomy means their only loyalty is to the truth, and their findings will face a higher threshold of scrutiny in a court of law. At Lauth, our corporate investigators also have backgrounds associated with law enforcement and are comfortable giving testimony on the witness stand. They can testify to how their investigative methods lead them to their conclusion and assure the court that all avenues were explored when preparing their findings.
When corporations are experiencing repeated internal issues regarding personnel, such as harassment and discrimination claims, malingering, or internal theft, the answer can often lie in the corporation’s internal hiring processes. One of the most egregious errors an employer can make is neglecting to perform thorough, verified background checks on their prospective employees. If they do run background checks, but they do not come from verified sources, there can be an inherent blind spot to parts of an individual’s history.
Through their licensure by the state, private investigators have access to verified databases that allow them to search information similar to that of law enforcement. Private investigators can generate comprehensive background checks on potential employees from just a few datapoints, like full name, address, and phone number—all data points that would be present on a job application. Because the quality of any report is dependent entirely on the quality of data entry, the background check alone is not due-diligence. Private investigators cross-reference the information on these background checks to make verify the crux of the report. In addition to generating the background check, private investigators can also provide crucial context regarding the items on a person’s background check, such as their criminal history, professional history, address history, litigative history, or financial history.
Corporate theft comes in many forms—from theft of property and assets to embezzlement. It requires a comprehensive strategy and swift intervention, or the consequences could be devastating. Because internal investigators cannot be fundamentally objective, a private investigator could be the ideal professional to save your business. While the idea of an external investigator could be petrifying to some employers, Lauth investigators have the diverse skillset to conduct undisruptive internal corporate investigations. In addition to background check services, private investigators can conduct corporate theft investigations under the radar without disrupting day-to-day operations.
Discretion can be paramount to an internal investigation so that all relevant subjects in the investigation continue to conduct themselves without suspicion. Private investigators are adept in blending in to the background in undercover operations. They can assimilate into the workplace seamlessly and begin the fact-finding process unbeknownst to the reset of the employees. With sophisticated surveillance technology, private investigators can interview relevant subjects and witnesses in the corporate investigation and document their information for the investigation. In this manner, private investigators can document the unseen, and provide our clients with the full picture inside their business.
An FMLA investigation should be prompted by what is called a “reasonable suspicion”—meaning the employer has a suspicion of FMLA fraud that is not driven by bias or personal gain. When an employer has a reasonable suspicion that their employee(s) is committing FMLA fraud, they can turn to a private investigator to confirm their reasonable suspicion. Private investigators use their knowledge of surveillance and undercover operations to document the movements of the employee while they are offsite. They can document actions contradictory to the employee’s FMLA claim. For instance, if an employee cites an illness that prevents them from working in large groups, you would expect that person to be minimizing their exposure to others. A private investigator can follow that employee’s moves outside the home and confirm whether or not they are complying. If the employee is found at a busy shopping center with many other customers, that would be a contradiction of their FMLA claim. Lauth’s FMLA investigators can document the employee’s movements, provide documentation and comprehensive reports to give the employer crucial context in matters of FMLA fraud.
A non-compete agreement protects an employer from having their trade secrets stolen by former employees and used to erode their bottom line. If an employee departs from your organization and takes the trade secrets they learned within their organization and take them to a competitor or use them to start their own business with an identical model. Using a similar skillset associated with documenting FMLA fraud, private investigators can also get employers the clarity they need in matters of non-compete investigations. Private investigators use their surveillance and undercover operation services to follow a former employee in their professional life and determine whether or not trade secrets have indeed been stolen.
Worker’s Compensation Investigations
The same skillset that allows private investigators to document FMLA violations allow them to properly document misconduct within worker’s compensation claims. Private investigators use the best surveillance technology to photograph employees who are under suspicion of committing worker’s compensation fraud. Private investigators capture misconduct on film and write up reports to fully contextualize their behavior for the employer. Should the conclusion of the investigation result in any kind of litigation, Lauth’s private investigators are highly adept at providing expert testimony on the witness stand.
Violence & Threat Assessment
A corporate investigation does not always have to occur as a reaction to a crisis, but instead be a proactive measure to protect the corporation. With a rise in violence in the workplace, more employers are investing in violence and threat assessments on their businesses to fully understand how protected are their assets and their employees in the event of workplace violence. Most businesses opt for a risk assessment firm to decide their level of security against an external or internal threat. A risk assessment firm is likely to only evaluate the brick-and-mortar, or cyber security of a corporation or organization in order to determine how vulnerable they are to an external attack.
Private investigators are valuable in a violence or threat assessments for corporations or organizations because they go beyond the physical assets and have insight into the human element of violence or threat assessment. External threats come from persons attempting to infiltrate the corporation or organization, either physically, or in cyberspace. However, this does not account for the threats that might already be present in their professional sphere. The background check services and undercover operations that help private investigators document contradictions in non-compete agreements and FMLA claims allow them to review the histories of current employees and how the corporate culture impacts them.
Private investigators can go undercover and speak to relevant subjects and get the information they might not offer freely to upper management. Private investigators can review an employee’s background history and their history with the corporation or organization to look for red flags that might be an indicator of violence. When employees have a pervasive pattern of misconduct, despite reprimand or discipline, and still remain in the organization, private investigators can contextualize for an employer how this employee will remain a liability to the organization and continue to effect the bottom line. Lauth corporate investigators can place red flags in context for employers so they can make informed decisions about their business and their employees.
White Collar Crime
When it comes to a corporation or organization’s vision, there is never a more appropriate time for a corporate investigation or a workplace investigation than when white collar crime is suspected to have taken place. Leadership and executives within a corporation have the highest level of influence and the highest of access, and therefore should be held to the highest level of scrutiny within the workplace. Corporate investigations are a method of intervention that is supposed to put a stop to harmful behavior, and executives are able to do an insurmountable amount of damage in a very short period of time.
White collar crime demands a comprehensive, sophisticated, covert investigation—the ideal type of corporate investigation for a private investigator. By retaining an independent, private investigator for a white collar crime investigation, the corporation buys that layer of integrity and objectivity that is non-existent in an internal investigation. Private investigators have no bias about the executives they are investigating as part of a white collar crime investigation. Through their experience in their practice, they have the sophistication to set up ruses, go undercover, and document misconduct in white collar investigations. When Lauth investigators reach a conclusion in the white collar investigation, they prepare detailed reports and can work in tandem with law enforcement in order to bring the white collar criminal to justice.
Attorney and Legal Support
When a corporate investigation concludes, the solution might inspire leadership to take action against the subject, or the subject might retaliate by pursuing legal action against their former employer. Lauth’s private investigators are there for our clients through every stage of the investigation. From the very first intake report, all the way to the court room, our private investigators are ready to offer their expertise and their testimony in our commitment to due-diligence within our investigations.
As corporate attorneys build a case against former employees, the fact that evidence has been collected by an independent private investigator will be invaluable. The evidence was collected by a professional with credentials in the state of record, who is completely independent from the corporation or organization, and is able to provide independent verification of the facts found in the investigation and what their professional recommendations were to leadership.
Should the scope of the litigation extend beyond that of the original corporate investigation, Lauth’s corporate investigators are dedicated to assisting our clients in their legal action. Should there be additional subjects that need background checks, or required surveillance services, or any other type of intelligence is needed, our private investigators are ready to support corporate attorneys with fact-finding so they are free to focus on caselaw.
Corporate Culture Audits
A corporate culture audit is a program that examines the internal policies of a corporation or organization, how those policies are enforced, how they effect the employees, and how those employees relate to each other as a result. If the corporate culture in a company is good, that positivity is baked into the internal operations, employees feel valued by their organization, and therefore will remain engaged and invested in maintaining productivity.
Lauth’s corporate culture investigators evaluate a corporation from the top down, identifying important factors or red flags that might have been previously ignored by leadership.
We speak to employees and find out what they perceive the problems to be within the corporate structure. We compile detailed reports and expert recommendations to help our clients improve their corporation from within. For more information on our corporate culture audit program, click here.
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