Why conduct an investigation?
An employer chooses to do an investigation for a variety of reasons. In some situations, the law requires it, for example, as a necessary component of taking every reasonable step to correct harassment and prevent it from occurring. In other situations, while not legally required, an investigation is a logical step to create a positive, productive work environment — a prudent way to assess an employee’s concerns, determine what is happening and whether violations of policies have occurred, and identify actions the employer might take to improve its workplace.
When does hiring an experienced outside investigator make sense?
Deciding whether to hire an outside investigator can be complex, and one or more of the following factors may lead an employer to engage an outside investigator:
The allegations are serious and/or sensitive.
The allegations are complex.
The allegations suggest that misconduct is widespread or involves many employees.
The allegations accuse a high-level manager.
The company does not have personnel trained to conduct investigations.
The company does not have personnel who have time to conduct a prompt and thorough investigation.
An in-house investigator has a conflict of interest or an actual or perceived bias because of his or her role in the company or a specific relationship or history with employees involved in the investigation.
There is high risk of a lawsuit.
How much does it cost to hire an outside investigator?
The cost of hiring an outside investigator depends on many factors, including the number, nature, complexity, and seriousness of the complaint; the number of individuals involved, including witnesses; the quantity and types of relevant documents that need to be reviewed; and the type of report requested. We work to provide an estimate once the scope of an investigation has been defined.
While the cost of engaging an outside investigator can certainly be greater than having Human Resources or other internal personnel conduct an investigation, if a complaint or situation warrants an investigation, it is worth making sure that the investigation is done well. Whether an employer uses an outside investigator or not, sufficient time, expertise, and resources must be devoted to conducting a thorough investigation. The FUTURE costs of NOT having an adequate investigation are often far greater than the cost of doing one.
“Amy served as Legal Counsel and Head of Human Resources for the five years I worked as the CTO and COO of a major defense supplier. During that time, we encountered a wide range of extremely challenging business and personnel issues, and Amy’s intelligence, integrity, and good judgment were invaluable in helping us forge the best decisions for the company. She is down-to-earth and able to maintain and communicate her impartiality even in the most sensitive situations. In addition, she was a delightful colleague who maintained a sense of humor in the toughest situations.”
— Jeff Bowman
Former Chief Operating Officer, Massif