Articles by Rachel Ablin, Esq.
How the Mueller Investigation and Your Company’s Misconduct Investigations are Similar (and How They Differ)
As the Mueller investigation plays out on the national stage, corporate HR departments across the country are ramping up their internal investigations procedures to handle an increase in allegations of employee misconduct. If you are responsible for your organization’s internal investigations policies and processes, you may be surprised to learn that the Mueller investigation actually has a lot in common with internal investigations in the business world.
There is no question that the #MeToo movement has impacted workplaces in the U.S. Sexual misconduct victims who may have been hesitant to bring their stories forward in the past now feel more emboldened to do so. Businesses large and small across the country have had to investigate allegations and make sometimes-tough decisions as a result.
Allegations of sexual harassment or other workplace misconduct must be taken seriously in any business. For broker-dealers and other businesses regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) or the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), thorough investigations are a must. However, financial services firms must also be deliberate about how they choose to disclose the results of such investigations, being ever aware of the risk of defamation lawsuits from the targets of such investigations.
Noted astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City and star of Cosmos, is the latest celebrity accused of workplace sexual harassment. In a public statement posted on Facebook on Saturday, December 1 titled “On Being Accused,” Tyson addressed the allegations made public a day earlier and categorically denied any wrongdoing.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently released preliminary data about sexual harassment claims the agency received and addressed in fiscal year 2018 (FY 2018). That data shows that the number of sexual harassment complaints received was up more than 12 percent over fiscal year 2017 numbers.
For the second time in as many months, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) filed a series of separate but similar lawsuits against private employers across the country, alleging workplace harassment.
In one of the latest incidents in a recent string of sexual harassment allegations against high-ranking corporate executives, Leslie “Les” Moonves – the CEO of CBS Corporation (CBS) – is facing accusations that he sexually harassed six women with whom he had business relationships. The CBS board is investigating the claims and has retained outside counsel to ensure independence.
The #MeToo movement has significantly increased recognition of, and simulated a national conversation about, workplace sexual harassment over the last year. However, employers should also remember there are other serious types of employment misconduct that can have repercussions for the organization if ignored. One of those issues is bullying.
The #MeToo movement has impacted both Hollywood and our elected government officials, holding powerful men accountable for sexual harassment that in some cases, spanned decades. In many instances, consequences have been both swift and significant.