Imagine the scenario: an employee comes to you and alleges that a pillar member of your leadership team has repeatedly addressed them using racial slurs. Or perhaps, a low level manager expresses concern that they have been repeatedly overlooked for promotion because of their sexual orientation or identity. What do you do? You launch a discrimination investigation.
As an employer, you have a legal obligation to nurture an environment that is free of discrimination’s many ugly faces. So, in these instances, the only correct course of action is to launch a workplace discrimination investigation.
Discrimination can manifest in many ways: hiring, firing, and promotion decisions; the withholding of raises, perks, or bonuses; verbal abuse or microaggressions; or the forging of a biased or bullying atmosphere. Ultimately, whenever mistreatment in the workplace is driven by bias towards a personal characteristic or status—be it sexual orientation, age, disability, race, or others—it likely falls under the umbrella of anti-discrimination laws. This means that your duty to launch a corporate investigation is triggered, and now is the moment for action.
Knowing What to Do In the Face of a Workplace Discrimination Complaint
There’s no doubt that a swift response is required in the face of a workplace discrimination complaint, but so too is caution. Failure to act leaves the door open to a human rights complaint or civil suit from the victim, but acting over-zealously opens a neighboring door to the same actions from the accused. The place to start is in turning to your own HR policies, which should always be clearly outlined, up to date, and well communicated.
Historically, courts have considered employees bound by their written policies, so digression is a dangerous game. From there, the best investigative strategy can be identified—informed by the knowledge that discrimination can be nuanced and multi-faceted, making it harder to evidence and document. Keeping discrimination investigations in-house can be another risky route, as it makes way for accusations of bias. In many instances, turning to a trusted and impartial corporate investigations service can be the most sturdy and cost-effective course of action.
The Benefit of Having a Corporate Investigations Specialist in Your Corner
Whenever a distressing accusation emerges within a workplace, fast resolution and damage-control are always going to be on everyone’s minds—whether that means concluding with termination or not, a discrimination investigation is vital. While closing the case file may seem tempting and within reach, all workplace discrimination investigations should be mounted with the potential for litigation in mind. A court may look unfavorably on investigations conducted by those who are under-trained or inexperienced, while inadequately documented efforts may topple even the most ethically conducted corporate investigation.
A private investigator who is well seasoned within the corporate world will offer expert support in conducting interviews, navigating confidentiality, communicating with lawyers, and weighing mitigating factors from a legal standpoint. They will also have complete and comprehensive knowledge of state-relevant legal obligations and how to form a case-file that is ready for scrutiny—as well as being able to step in as an expert witness should the need arise. Of course, the role of corporate investigations services need not begin there, but can actually serve at the prevention stage, safeguarding organizations against peril of considerable losses.
A Corporate Culture Audit Provides Armour Against Workplace Discrimination
One of the best resources in the corporate culture toolkit when it comes to tackling workplace discrimination is to stop a hostile work environment from reaching boiling point—and ideally even prevent it from forming in the first place. In this endeavor, a corporate culture audit serves as a health check for workplace prosperity. This proactive form of corporate investigation lets you know if your organization is working as a well-oiled machine, or if a variety or opportunities for improvement have been going undetected—gradually eroding employee wellbeing, performance, and trust.
The dedicated corporate investigations team at Lauth Investigations is here to serve you, so learn more about the role we can play in bringing your workplace discrimination investigations to successful resolution, as well as the transformative powers of our innovative Corporate Culture Audits. Alternatively, contact the team today to discuss your unique needs in detail, and receive a free no-obligation quote.