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HOW TO CONDUCT A WORKPLACE INVESTIGATION
As soon as an employer and or management are aware of a conflict, the appropriate steps to obtain the facts of the conflict should be taken.
An important aspect necessary to successfully investigating any employee related issues is the ability for the investigator to build a rapport with those they are interviewing and or investigating. If management doesn’t have the necessary rapport with everyone involved with the conflict, there is a high probability that the facts with not be obtained, therefore the desired remedy will not be achieved. In most cases, a contracted workplace investigator can successfully play multiple roles and utilize a variety of investigative techniques in order to obtain the required evidence from those involved.
Another important aspect of conducting workplace investigations is the investigators to ability to know when to be discreet. Investigator must strategically use discretion to obtain certain information before employees have a chance to plan and or destroy/hide evidence that could be useful.So timing is of the essence!!! The more time that has transpired, the more difficult it will become to accurately remember the fact and to effectively locate potential witnesses and or evidence. Employees will often fill more comfortable discussion the facts of a conflict when they are confident that their coworkers will never find out that they spoke to or provided evidence to investigators.
The last important aspect of conducting workplace investigations is the investigators integrity and the employer’s assurance that the investigator will keep certain information confidential. This is where contract workplace investigators have a decided advantage over in-house investigators. Contracted investigators have no biases and limited opportunity to share confidential information with the client’s employees. Most investigative agencies go great lengths to protects their clients confidential information and have developed a variety of investigative skills & resources to insure that all sensitive information is kept confidential.
(Audio Example of Supervisor sexually harassing and employee, however the witness is afraid to speak to in-house investigator for fear that they might lose they job or jeopardize a relationship)
THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE CONDUCTING WORKPLACE INVESTIGATIONS:
According to the California Department of Consumer Affair’s Business and Professions Code Section 7521 (a-e) and 7523 (a-b) also known as the Private Investigators Act or PIA, no person shall engage in business or accepts employment to furnish, or agrees to make, or makes, any investigation for the purpose of obtaining, information with reference to:
Applicable Code Section 7521 (a-e)(a) Crime or wrongs done or threats against the United States of America or any state or territory of the United States of America.
(b) The identity, habits, conduct, business, occupation, honesty, integrity, credibility, knowledge, trustworthiness, efficiency, loyalty, act, whereabouts, affiliations, associations, transactions, acts, reputation, or character of any person.
(c) Securing evidence to be used before any court, board, officer or investigative committee imprisonment.
(e)For the purposes of this section, a private investigator is any person, firm, company, association, partnership, or corporation acting for the purpose of investigating, obtaining, and reporting to any employer, its agent, supervisor, or manager, information concerning the employer’s employees involving questions of integrity, honesty, breach of rules, or other standards of performance of job duties.
Applicable Code Section 7523 (a-b)(a) Unless specifically exempted by Section 7522, no person shall engage in the business of private investigator, as defined in Section 7521 unless that person has applied for and received a license to engage in that business pursuant to this chapter.
(b) Any person who violates any provision of this chapter or who conspires with another person to violate any provision of this chapter, relating to private investigator licensure, or who knowingly engages a nonexempt unlicensed person is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of five thousand dollars ($5,000) or by imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
Please note: Aside from licensed Private Investigators, the Business and Profession Code Section 7522 clearly identifies two other exceptions for conducting private investigations legally:
- Internal Employees (a) – A person employed exclusively and regularly by any employer who does not provide contract security services for other entities or persons, in connection with the affairs of such employer only and where there exists an employer-employee relationship.);
- Attorneys (e) – An attorney at law in performing his or her duties as an attorney at law)
However, most if not all reliable database providers restrict access to licensed private investigators, attorneys and other information entities that must comply with FCRA, GLB and other privacy requirements.