Thorough and impartial investigations for businesses, governmental entities, and non-profits.
Employers in the United States are required to follow the guidelines established by federal law and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). They must also comply with similar state laws. Some employers, such as medical practices, must comply with professional ethical standards in interacting with patients. When an employee, patient or consumer reports discrimination or abuse by an employee, the employer should conduct a full investigation and take appropriate action to address discrimination, harassment and abuse. Thorough investigations also help to foster a safe, positive and inclusive environment–and we all know a safe, positive and inclusive environment is a productive and thriving one.
DP Law has worked with a wide range of businesses, municipalities and nonprofit organizations from medical practices to construction firms to police departments to arts and professional organizations to investigate allegations involving sexual misconduct and other discrimination. The matters we investigate involve parties and witnesses of all demographics and positions, from entry-level employees to CEOs. We are trauma-informed, and we work hard to make all parties feel heard and respected, and to minimize disruption to the workplace without compromising thoroughness, fairness or efficiency.
Specific areas of expertise include:
Schedule your consultation to discuss potential investigations within your business or organization.
Title VII laws in the United States prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin and sex. The law also forbids retaliation against a person who complained about discrimination, filed a discrimination suit or participated in an investigation into employment discrimination. The law also requires employers make reasonable accommodations for sincerely held religious practices on the part of applicants and employees, so long as those accommodations do not impose undue hardship on the operation of the business.
Other pieces of legislation that affect discrimination and misconduct in businesses include the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (which makes it illegal to pay different wages to men and women who perform equal work), the Age Discrimination in Employmenet Act of 1967 (which forbids discrimination on the basis of age), the Americans With Disabilities Act (which forbids discriminatoin on the basis of disability), and the Family and Medical Leave Act.
Businesses should include clear, strong statements and policies regarding sexual misconduct and harassment within their employee handbooks and company policies, outline exactly how investigations will proceed if allegations arise, and train employees how to identify and report sexual misconduct. The training should ideally take place in person, with opportunity for questions and answers, and not just when an employee is first hired, but annually or biannually. Some businesses use human resources staff to conduct investigations. Others use external investigators, or a combination of both. Either method can work so long as the investigator has adequate training and experience. When an allegation is made against a high-level manager, the case is high profile, litigation is anticipated, or the designated internal investigator does not have sufficient time to dedicate to the investigation, we highly recommend hiring an experienced outside investigator.
First, don’t assume that just because your staff hold professional licenses, they fully understand where the appropriate boundaries are and maintain them, or that they will report violations of their colleagues, especially if the colleague is perceived as having higher status. Too many of our cases prove that they don’t.
Second, medical practices and businesses with similar vulnerable consumer populations must take extra care to establish clear guidelines and train staff in how to identify and report sexual and other misconduct among staff and between staff and patients.
Finally, when misconduct is reported, don’t assume the licensing board will take care of it. You, as the employer and provider of professional services, have a separate obligation to your staff and patients to investigate and address inappropriate conduct.