We spend most of our days at work. While at work, people need to feel safe, included, and free to perform their work and pursue promotions or other opportunities based on their job performance. At every workplace, there should be rules, processes, regulations, and procedures that should be followed by everybody. These rules apply to your junior staff as well as your most senior staff.
Unfortunately, as much as you hope that the culture at your office is one that is positive and promotes good, productive work and happiness among employees, that's not always the case. There could be discrimination, harassment, or other inappropriate behaviour that if you are an employer, you will likely have a duty to investigate further.
Workplace investigations often begin when an employee comes forward with an allegation of inappropriate behaviour or other misconduct. This could involve sexual harassment, discrimination, or a toxic work environment. Sometimes, it is the employer who suspects that there could be fraud or misconduct within the workforce, and they may wish to proceed with an investigation in order to find out if such misconduct is indeed occurring within the workplace.
When an employer becomes aware of such issues within a workplace, they should take immediate steps to launch and complete an investigation. An investigation may be conducted by somebody internal to the company, typically somebody who is in a human resources role, or it may be conducted by someone external to the company, such as an external Human Resources professional or a workplace investigation lawyer.
There are many considerations when thinking about how a workplace investigation should be conducted. Often, workplace investigations take place while all other employees continue to work. Those other employees likely know of a problem at work, and employee morale could be very low. Workplace investigation lawyers are trained in techniques of how to interview current employees, how to interview former employees, and how to otherwise get evidence of what is actually occurring within the workplace without causing greater discord, distrust or issues between employees.
Scope and Cost of Workplace Investigations
As an employer, you may dictate the scope of a workplace investigation, but with the help of a lawyer, can help you determine how detailed the investigation needs to be. The cost of a workplace investigation may vary significantly depending on the nature of the problem and how long the process will take. Obviously the severity and how widespread a problem is will likely dictate how much work needs to go into the workplace investigation. However, this is something to take very seriously because if there is a toxic work environment, you may open yourself up to litigation or claims of harassment or discrimination by your employees. If the issue was widespread, you could have many instances of litigation in your hands, not to mention lowered productivity and likely high employee turnover. All of this becomes very costly to your business if it continues. At Key Legal, you can speak to a workplace investigation lawyer with respect to any work related issues, including verbal abuse, violence, fraud, and other serious issues in the workplace.
Ready to get started? Key Legal has Ontario Workplace Investigation Lawyers ready to help you either through Zoom meetings or by telephone. You can either book an appointment or request a lawyer on-demand. Just use our booking page or our chat feature to get started!