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.
Working from home used to only be a dream for some people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in many significant ways, but none so illuminating as how the workforce views capitalism and corporate culture. At the onset of the pandemic, most businesses were forced to cease onsite operations in order to comply with the stay-at-home order. While some employees were furloughed due to the changed economic landscape, other employees had their positions transitioned to some form of telecommunication—zoom calls, chat boxes, and email inboxes that have become impossible to clean out. Everything has changed, which has left some working people wondering why working from home is an impossibility in an age where it can help change a corporation’s culture.
Working from home can give an employee a better sense of work-life balance. Everyone who has worked a full-time job has at one time or another craved a greater work-life balance in order to maintain their health and happiness. Many Americans across all industries and tax brackets have expressed some desire to work less for a myriad of reasons. Employees who have never had flexibility in their jobs before are enjoying the flexibility of working from the comfort of their homes. While this is not comforting to all employees, especially ones with children who are also in the home and likely involved in virtual learning, the sudden cushion of their own couch underneath them while working from home makes them wonder why this was never possible before.
Corporate culture is the manifestation of the relationship between leadership and their employees. It is sometimes referred to as organizational culture. It concerns how policies and communication from the top of a corporation can directly influence the level of employee engagement and satisfaction at multiple levels of an organization. When a company’s management does not show initiative to improve operations surrounding these types of complaints, it can create a culture of silence & resentment within the workforce. Healthy corporate culture creates a cycle of satisfaction and productivity that both benefits the bottom line and improves employee engagement for a balanced, stream of operations.
The mandate of working from home has placed some companies on notice, as the situation has exacerbated the stress of many in an already turbulent time. As work and life and work continue to pass over each other, braiding themselves into context with one another, employees are starting to expect more care from their employers were regards to their corporate culture.
There will always be businesses and business models that cannot support telecommuting as a way of day-to-day operations. Studies have shown that separating work space from living space, the routine of commute and workday operations, the continued face-to-face contact with other employees and how it impacts daily output. Not to mention that every corporation and team is unique. Every work environment is a complex eco-system in its own right—internal structure, policies, how those policies are enforced, leadership, the personalities of all interacting employees—all of these factors creating unique professional experiences. Working from home continues to recontextualize life for working people, and leadership must use this open window to start investing in their corporate culture audit.
Think of a corporate culture audit like a checkup for your business. An investigator comes into the workplace, interviews employees, reviews daily operations and polices, and how those items are enforced. The investigator looks at all of these factors and how they effect the cycle of corporate culture. The investigator then provides leadership with methods to improve their corporate culture by investing in the happiness of their employees.
If you find your business is in need of a corporate culture audit, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit services. Our corporate culture audit can be customized to fit businesses of all sizes and needs. Our private investigators are made up of former military and law enforcement personnel and we carry an outstanding A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau. Call 317-951-1100, or visit us online at lauthinvestigations.com.
Internal investigations are a tricky and turbulent tide that intimidates many corporations and organizations into staying out of the water all together. Internal investigations can be costly and draw on precious time and resources that are needed elsewhere within the organization. Employees within the corporation or organization might not have the necessary training to conduct a comprehensive, unbiased investigation. However, leadership across the board is beginning to realize that the status quo is no longer acceptable, and must clarify their definition of due-diligence and compliance.
When there are pervasive issues in your corporation or organization, internal investigations are a necessary evil to get to the root of the problem. In recent years, the public’s interest in internal investigations continues to grow as individuals seek to break the culture of silence that surrounds many industries. This is in the interest of ultimately changing the professional climate that allows abuses and misconduct to occur within the organization. Cultural waves of awareness and learning—like those that occurred during the #MeToo movement, and the genesis of the Black Lives Matter movement—bring more attention to some of corporate America’s most pervasive issues, including sexual harassment, racism, and discrimination. Now leadership is seeking the advice of consultants and risk management experts in order to erode bigoted phenomena from their workplace.
Internal investigations are the first step in solving a pervasive workplace issue. One of the recent viral news stories regarding internal investigations are the stories surrounding The Ellen DeGeneres Show, in which multiple current and former employees have come forward to share their stories of a ‘toxic workplace’ culture that included multiple claims of sexual harassment. Following an internal investigation implemented by DeGeneres, three producers left the show. The Warner Brothers spokesperson who commented was not specific about whether the producers had quit or been fired, but what remains clear is that all men were accused of misconduct. Several former employees have accused producer Ed Glavin of “inappropriate touching, and leading with intimidation and fear.” Former employees have also accused producers Kevin Leman and Johnathan Norman of sexual harassment. Norman and Leman have vehemently denied the allegations made against them, while Glavin has remained silent on the allegations against him.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show faced public backlash and uncertainty in the weeks following the initial allegations, but their commitment to solving these problems kept the court of public opinion at bay through their internal investigation. Corporations would do themselves a service by conducting internal investigations into repeated patterns of misconduct, but not every company has the personnel to do this. Human resource employees are incredible individuals who help keep a corporation or organization running like a well-oiled machine. They are the gatekeepers who bring a new employee into the workforce, and they are the first line of defense when an employee has a problem in the workplace. While a human resources employee might have a sophisticated degree, unless they have diverse experience in conducting corporate investigations, they may not be equipped to handle an internal investigation. Important facts could slip through the cracks, leads could go unexplored, leading to disastrous consequences for the corporation down the line.
Internal investigations are attractive for a number of reasons. Internal investigators work directly for the corporation or organization in question, and know the ins and outs of the business and can conduct the investigation in the best interest of the corporation. Internal investigations are handled by agents of the corporation and do not have to be mitigated in any way. Most importantly, internal investigations are just that—internal—and therefore away from the prying eyes of public opinion. Despite all of the attractive reasons to have an internal investigation, they do not guarantee a protective veneer of integrity that fortifies the end result.
Internal investigations are necessary, but they don’t necessarily have to be internal. Private investigators are completely independent of the corporations that retain them. Though they are paid for their services, it is not in the bet interest of a private investigator to be loyal to anything less than the truth. Complete transparency and integrity are the cornerstone of their business. Therefore, a private investigator is a perfect individual to document internal issues for an organization, because they are inherently without bias and are able to maintain complete objectivity. With Lauth’s corporate investigators on your side, you’ll receive the unvarnished reality regarding the internal problems in your corporation or organization.
If your corporation or organization is experiencing repeated instances of internal difficulty, it might be time for a corporate culture audit. 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. Pervasive, repeated internal problems may not stem from a single factor, but the entire corporate culture of the workplace. Think of a corporate culture audit like a medical check-up for a business or organization. Lauth’s investigators evaluate the culture from leadership down, identifying the major factors in disruption, and advise leadership on how to improve their business from within. For more information on our corporate culture audit program, click here.
Every corporation needs an excellent in-house attorney to fight complex legal battles in their stead—someone to act in the best interests of the company and its future. In addition to the everyday intricacies of business litigation, house counsel may also have to field lawsuits from current or former employees who have a legal objection to something that happened during their tenure at the business. When employee lawsuits become a pervasive issue at a business, not only is the cost in billable hours exponential, but the legal judgements that result from these litigations can be devastating for companies. While litigation in general can be characterized as the cost of doing business, companies with healthy corporate culture experience a much lower rate of employee lawsuits. So, how can healthy corporate culture reduce the chance of a lawsuit?
Corporations across the United States are starting to understand the value of healthy corporate culture. Employee lawsuits aside, unhealthy corporate culture can have detrimental, snowballing effects that occur when employees are unhappy in their capacity and unengaged in their work. This is why corporations must improve their culture from within, so that employee retention and productivity remain high. Corporations also have millennials making up the majority of the workforce in the nation, complete with a set of values that propels them to seek a better work-life balance. This means that millennials are less likely to stay in a job where they are unhappy, and will simply seek a more amendable opportunity that allows them to have the work-life balance they desire.
When employees do not feel heard or valued by their employer, they’re far more likely to file a lawsuit related to their grievance. And unfortunately, no company is safe. In 2010, 99,922 EEOC charges were filed in the state of Florida alone, a datapoint that makes leadership wonder not if they’ll be the target of a lawsuit, but when. Employee lawsuits can drag out over months or even years, exponentially getting more expensive. The average settlement in an employee claim or lawsuit is $40,000. That expense alone can be devastating to a company, but that does not account for the disruption to daily operations, and the fact that litigation costs are on a steady rise. In 10% of cases, settlements result in $1 million or greater, a sum that could be the beginning of the end for many medium to small corporations.
The risk of a lawsuit can be even greater depending on the state in which it is filed. According to the Hiscox Group, a majority of states carry around a 10% change of having an employee lawsuit filed against them. However, in Georgia, the probability is 19%. In states like New Mexico, California, and Nevada, the probability can be as high as 55%. The area with the highest probability of litigation is the District of Columbia, with a terrifying 81% chance. The reason for the wide range in probabilities is two-fold: First, the legal standards in each state regarding discrimination and hostile work environments can vary. Secondly, the states with higher risks have more binding laws regarding litigation that can create extra hurdles for companies at the state level. This is why corporations must stay current on employment legislation, especially if they have locations across multiple states/jurisdictions.
So, how can corporations protect themselves against litigation from current or former employees? In-house counsel fields lawsuits when they are filed, but did you know there was a more proactive method to combatting employee litigation? The answer is simple: healthy corporate culture. When a corporation has a healthy corporate culture, it means that the employees feel valued by their employers in their capacity within the organization. It means that employees who feel valued are engaged, thereby greasing the wheels of internal, daily operations. This increased productivity means progress for the company, and the cycle of healthy corporate culture begins anew with leadership rewarding engaged employees for their hard work.
Research shows that the number one reason behind employee lawsuits is retaliation. In an average scenario, the employee reports an internal issue, usually regarding a form of discrimination. Following the inclusion of the investigation, when the employee cannot track for upward mobility, or a form of unwarranted disciplinary action occurs, they assume the reason is for reporting the previous issue. This can result in that employee filing a lawsuit for receiving unfair treatment on behalf of their employer. When organizations have healthy corporate culture, this is far less likely to occur.
If your company or organization needs a corporate culture overhaul, call Lauth Investigations International today for a free quote on our corporate culture audit program. We can help you improve your business from within and decrease the likelihood of employee lawsuits. When it comes to your business, you should expect facts, not fiction.
The biggest mistake executives make when trying to improve their corporate culture…
The corporate culture within any company, without question, effects their bottom-line day to day. Just to name a few avenues, this occurs through operations, interpersonal relationships between employees, and a level of engagement from leadership that requires consistent enforcement of their established mission and values. Because a corporation’s internal culture often remains hidden from consumer view, it’s not uncommon for leadership to simply restructure operations. Unfortunately, if every aspect of a company’s culture is not examined, this solution is just a band aid.
The Ice Berg Metaphor
When concerning a corporation’s culture, we often use the iceberg metaphor as a means of defining it. Ten percent of a corporation’s values and culture are above the water where the public and consumers can see it, and the other 90% lies below the surface. It’s that 90% that directly affects a company’s employee morale, productivity, and bottom line. A corporation often places its highest priority on how they are perceived by their consumer base, and therefore that 90% of company culture and values are either placed on the back burner, or corporations find themselves at a complete loss of how to get in front of the issues.
Some other band aid fixes for happy employees include things like discounted vending machines in the breakrooms, or regular celebrations of major holidays and birthdays. These lovely notions might improve culture for a day or even a week, but the pervasive internal problems will remain.
Happy employees are engaged employees. When a corporation’s culture is healthy, employees feel invested in the success of their companies. The company’s success becomes internalized as their own success, and they are more likely to be plugged in, to take initiative, and to think outside of the box when it comes to problem-solving.
When employees are leaning into their positions and actively working towards a company’s goals, that leads to smoother daily operations. Engaged employees are constantly finding ways to improve their processes so they can generate higher rates of productivity within their positions
When daily operations are streamlined, this yields higher levels of productivity within the company. An employee’s daily duties are no longer a monotonous checklist, but a recipe for success for their company. An engaged employee’s success is the success of everyone in the corporation, and the same is true of productivity. A single employee’s increased productivity is the entire company’s success. Not only does this set an example for all employees, but increased productivity is what helps a company grow, mature, and prosper.
This one is a no-brainer. Anyone who has ever been employed knows that a happy boss makes a happy employee. Leadership sees the increase in engagement and productivity and lean into that success. Good leadership will reward that success in tangible ways that will have long-term effects on the company’s culture. They promote or give raises to those employees who are giving 100%, empower those employees through collaboration and development, and are more open to the thoughts and ideas of employees who are contributing to their success.
When leadership is actively encouraging employees through a pure manifestation of the company’s mission and values, employees feel as if they are making a difference within their organization. This increases the feeling of purpose and desire for cooperative teamwork. These feelings inspire employees to continue their pattern of success through the diligent, genuine practice of a company’s established mission and values. Increased morale means happy employees, and that’s where the cycle begins anew, exponentially influencing a company’s success with each cycle.
Structure is Not Culture
The network of operations within a company will never have a direct effect on company morale. Poor daily operations due to structure are really just a symptom of unhealthy corporate culture—a manifestation of poor culture at work. To diagnose the problem, many corporations turn to independent firms to conduct corporate culture audits in order to identify the problems within a company or organization. These firms measure a company’s daily operations, their quality of communication, and interpersonal relations among employees—just to name a few factors. When a corporate culture audit is comprehensive and curtailed to the organization, the findings can be invaluable to leadership that seeks to grow and mature in tandem with their values.
As mentioned above, employees who see a consistent display of established values from leadership, they’re more engaged and productive. It’s one thing to have the company’s mission statement and list of values posted online or on the wall within a workplace. It’s a completely different ballgame when leadership puts their money where their mouth is, and serves as an example for the entire workforce. That example can have a ripple effect creating an interpersonal trust between employees, in which they all feel like they’re on a team, working towards the same goal. It is in the nucleus of that atmosphere where real change and growth begin.