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Corporate And Employee Investigation Techniques

Have HR Workplace Investigation Questions?

From employment background investigations to corporate and employee investigations into theft, fraud, or employee behavior, even seasoned HR professionals have workplace investigation questions.

There is no doubt that handling your employee and corporate investigations correctly will help keep things running smoothly at your organization, but getting even one thing wrong can result not only in fines, penalties, and aggravation, but a negative effect on your employees, especially if the employee and corporate investigation was in regard to potential FMLA abuse, claims of bullying and harassment, or retaliation.

These problems can be avoided with proper training, and can help! We provide training for employment background investigations, employee investigations, and corporate investigations, as well as tips for successful investigation techniques.

Below are a few key suggestions - as well as links to applicable training courses - that can help.

What To Be Aware Of Regarding: Employment Background Investigations

Employers should:
  • Eliminate policies or practices that exclude people from employment based on any criminal record
  • Train managers, hiring officials, and decision-makers about Title VII and its prohibition on employment discrimination
  • Develop a narrowly tailored written policy and procedure for screening applicants and employees for criminal conduct
  • Identify essential job requirements and circumstances under which jobs are performed
  • When asking questions about criminal records, limit inquiries to records for which exclusion would be job related for the position in question and consistent with business necessity
  • Keep information about applicants' and employees' criminal records confidential
  • Ban the Box refers to the question on an initial application that asks if an applicant has ever been convicted of a crime
  • Know that most states require that an applicant be notified that drug testing is part of the screening process for new employees
Note: In some states, laws are in place that prevent an employer from discriminating against a job applicant or current employee who tests positive for marijuana, unless failure to do so would cause the employer to lose a monetary or licensing-related benefit under federal law. As such, consult your legal counsel to review substance screening policies, especially if you are a multi-state employer.

Recommended Training Courses:

>>> What To Do When Applicants Or Employees Have A Criminal History
>>> Background Checks And Safe Hiring: Trends, Legal Developments, And Best Practices

What To Be Aware Of Regarding: Employee Behavior Investigations

The following is a list of common reasons for employee complaints and/or topical areas where employees have to conduct investigations:
  • Alcohol or drug use and abuse
  • Discrimination
  • Harm to property
  • Harassment
  • Misconduct
  • Safety concerns or violations
  • Theft
  • Threats
  • Violations of contracts or labor agreements
  • Violations of wage and hour laws
  • Retaliation
  • Favoritism and perceived unfairness
  • Supervisors disrespecting them
  • Hostile work environment
  • Balance of workload: co-workers being slackers and the boss doesn't do anything
  • Lack of advancement
  • Leaders not listening to them
  • Leaders who only are visible when things get screwed up?
Note: Some issues brought to management are actual complaints, while others are simply employee drama. As such, employers should have a process for handling "complaint intake" to determine the level of significance.

Recommended Training Courses:

>>> How To Conduct Employee Relations Investigations
>>> How To Identify And Investigate FMLA Abuse
>>> Preventing Workplace Harassment and Bullying
>>> How To Avoid Wrongful Termination Claims
>>> Detecting And Deterring Payroll Fraud
>>> 9 Ways To Spot, Handle, and Reduce Workers' Comp Fraud
>>> How To Keep HR From Being The Employee Complaint Department

What To Do Regarding: Employment Law Investigations

There are numerous federal and state laws affecting employment, including:
  • The Family & Medical Leave Act
  • ADA Amendments Act
  • Occupational Safety & Health Act
  • National Labor Relations Act
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Acts
  • Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
  • The Equal Pay Act of 1963 (EPA)
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967
These labor and employment laws are becoming increasingly complex and more difficult to manage, especially as more and more employees often try to game the system. As such, employers have to be especially careful investigating:
  • FMLA abuse
  • Age and religious discrimination
  • Coverage of LGBT persons under Title VII
  • Disability discrimination, including qualification standards and inflexible leave policies
  • EEOC charges
  • Claims of retaliation
Because of this and other issues, employers' policies must mirror laws and continually be updated to keep pace. In many cases, employers may want to engage their legal counsel early on in the process.

Additionally, managers and supervisors must be trained on company policies, why they exist, and HOW to consistently enforce them. At a bare minimum, leaders must know anti-discrimination, anti-harassment, wage and hour, and safety laws.

Employers should ensure that their managers and supervisors are properly educated regarding the organization's EEO policies and procedures, and know how to enforce policies. For instance, they should know how to confront a direct report who is demonstrating inappropriate behavior, what to do if they overhear a co-worker harassing an employee who just came back from giving an interview to HR, etc. Managers and supervisors also should be aware that they act as agents of the organization, and that their retaliatory actions can create legal liability.

Recommended Training Course:

>>> Certificate Program In FMLA & ADA Compliance

What To Be Aware Of Regarding: Corporate Investigations

There are a number of laws affecting corporate investigations, and a number or various agencies that laws such as:
  • Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA)
  • Occupational Safety and Health Act
  • Employee Retirement Income Security Act
  • Fair Labor Standards Act
  • Nat?l Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
  • Employee Polygraph Protection Act
  • Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA)
Employer Obligations Re Corporate investigations

When handling a corporate investigation, the employer must prove that it:
  • Undertook a timely and thorough investigation
  • Made a decision based upon factual information
  • Took appropriate corrective action
  • Followed up to ensure behavior is not repeated
To ensure a proper and compliant corporate investigation, employers should institute policies and procedures for handling corporate investigations. These include:
  • Develop written policies that mirror laws
  • Effectively communicate policies to all employees
  • Train management and employees
  • Develop confidential means of reporting harassment and discrimination
  • Conduct prompt, thorough investigations
Recommended Training Courses:

>>> Certificate Program For Internal Investigations
>>> Payroll Fraud: Are Your Employees Ripping You Off?

What To Be Aware Of Regarding: Tips For Investigation Techniques

Step 1: Assess The Case Type

Good case management begins with determining the type of case. Case types can include:
  • Theft
  • Misuse of Assets
  • Safety
  • EEO
  • Ethics & Compliance
Step 2: Determine Who Owns The Case

The next step in the investigative process is to clarify "who owns what"?. For instance, should it be handled by a manager or supervisor or a corporate investigator? Should legal be involved? Should law enforcement be involved?

Step 3: Prepare The Investigation
  • Determine if a formal investigation is necessary
  • Identify potential organizational risks and political issues
  • Obtain investigative authority
  • Identify documentary evidence to be reviewed
  • Identify physical evidence to be reviewed
  • Identify potential witnesses for gathering testimonial evidence
  • Prepare questions using Bulls Eye technique
  • Map out an investigative strategy
  • Create document control process
  • Delegate appropriately to free up time for traveling, interviews, report writing
  • Identify and prepare locations for conducting witness interviews
  • Establish security protocols for conducting interviews
  • Identify potential risks of "the grapevine" and be prepared to adjust interview schedules
  • Document, Document, Document

Find Training For Employee And Corporate Workplace Investigations

Get your workplace investigation questions answered with our internal investigations training courses. You will lean investigation techniques for properly handling employment background and employee and corporate workplace investigations.

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