Deciding when to take the time to conduct an investigation can be stressful. Choose wrong, and it could become costly. Below, discover what your three options are and four situations that should always be investigated.
These days, everyone is a champion for equality.
Your gender, race, colour, disabilities… none of it matters. Or it should not.
Unfortunately, humans err. And if your business is more than just yourself, you may find yourself eventually dealing with issues such as fraud, discrimination claims, harassment, or violence in the workplace.
Not only can claims like this cause friction between employees, but in our practice here at Bridge Legal & HR Services, we have seen firsthand how they can be very costly to the organization when not handled correctly.
What Is a Workplace Investigation?
A workplace investigation is intended to look into employee-related issues within a company. One could be triggered when an employee alleges discrimination in the workplace or even during the job application phase.
There can be numerous situations where conducting a workplace investigation can be essential for protecting your business. If you have been accused of discrimination or violating labour laws, for example. Another instance you should do one is if an employee brings forward a complaint of sexual harassment or discrimination against a fellow employee.
When Is a Workplace Investigation Required?
Deciding when to initiate a workplace investigation can be challenging.
On none hand, investigations can be time-consuming and costly. But, on the other hand, the costs and legal implications of not conducting a workplace investigation could be much more damaging in the long run.
There are three routes you can take when an employee approaches you with a claim…
If it is a trivial disagreement between employees can be resolved easily, you should not have to run an investigation. However, if it seems even slightly more complex, taking the time to conduct a full workplace investigation may be in the best interest of your company. In general, err on the side of caution.
Your third option is to get an outside opinion. Impartial investigators that have experience handling employee investigations like those at Bridge Legal & HR Solutions can assess your case and advise you on your next best steps.
What are examples of claims that need a full investigation?
There are four instances where you may be required to have a full workplace investigation…
1) Discrimination Claims
The Canadian Human Rights Act and equivalent provincial legislation
prohibit any discrimination in the workplace.
Employers must offer employment without discrimination and guard against discriminatory harassment based on characteristics outlined in human rights legislation, including:
- Race and colour
- Sexual orientation
- Marital status
Additionally, some jurisdictions outlaw discrimination based on some criminal convictions and gender identity.
2) Health and Safety Violations
Additionally, an employer must provide a reasonably healthy and safe work environment for employees. Conducting a workplace investigation may be warranted when an employee alleges their employer violated Canadian health and safety laws.
Violations can include:
- Failing to issue workers with adequate protective equipment.
- Failing to prevent or address workplace violence.
- Failing to advise workers of potential hazards and dangers.
- Lack of adequate employee training.
- Failure to comply with health and safety regulations.
3) Retaliation Claims
Under the above-mentioned health and safety and discrimination laws, retaliation against an employee who reports any violation of workplace laws is prohibited.
4) Other Reasons for Workplace Investigations
In some cases, it can be advantageous for a business to get proactive when there is a suggestion of any wrongdoing, such as a violation of work laws.
A company should act when they receive anonymous complaints or find that workers’ productivity or morale is suddenly declining. Signs of fraud, a toxic work environment, or violence among employees also need addressing promptly.
If you feel that something is wrong in your business or have already received complaints, contact Bridge Legal & HR Solutions today for advice. We can help identify an issue before it becomes damaging to your business.
How Is an Effective Workplace Investigation Conducted?
Employers’ workplace investigations must be fair and impartial. They should also be comprehensive and well documented.
Effective workplace investigations should also involve:
- Thought to Detail
Workplace investigations generally require investigators to gather a great deal of information about the company and ask questions about company structure and operations. In addition, investigators collect relevant evidence and conduct interviews with employees to fully understand the situation and gather witness statements.
Neutrality is crucial when conducting workplace investigations, whether internal or external investigations are taking place. All personnel involved in the investigation must remain fair and impartial.
All employees involved should be given a chance to explain their view of the incident or situation.
- Timely Action
When an investigation is triggered, it should be conducted as soon as possible. Swift action can avoid further wrongdoing or the aggravation of an issue. Likewise, disciplinary action should not be delayed so potential legal issues can be avoided.
Hiring an external firm can guarantee fairness, timely action, and a professional outcome. Internal investigations, on the other hand, can be quicker. But, they may not be entirely impartial or deliver as much attention to detail as an external investigation.
How Bridge Legal & HR Solutions can Help
Our experienced legal team has intimate knowledge of the laws and regulations pertaining to employment issues. Every workplace investigation we do is conducted objectively, efficiently, and on time.
Most importantly, we customize our investigations to your business needs. Once an investigation is completed, our lawyers gather and analyze their findings into a comprehensive report.
Bridge Legal & HR Solutions does not only handle workplace investigations but can also offer consulting services to your in-house investigation team. Businesses also contact us for workplace assessments and internal audits to ensure compliance. This allows them to take proactive steps and prevent any issues, such as discrimination and harassment, from occurring.
Our personalized approach ensures that our services will be tailored to your needs and your unique budget. Get in touch with the experienced workplace investigation lawyers at 647-794- 5442 today to determine how we can help protect your business.