Workplace Harassment Investigations

Harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination. An employer that fails to take prompt and corrective action for a case of workplace harassment may be held liable in court should an impacted employee file a claim. Many employers will engage in a workplace investigation to identify and correct areas of concern. It is important to ensure that a workplace investigation is unbiased from the start, not only to uncover all issues but also to prevent further litigation.

There are many benefits to hiring an outside firm for a workplace investigation. You will show your employees and shareholders that you take harassment claims seriously. With an outside investigator, there should be no credible allegation of an internal “whitewashing”. At Ablin Law, we have years of experience handling unbiased investigations both from a government enforcement perspective and from an internal employer perspective. This helps us to conduct each investigation in thorough detail and with a neutral eye.

woman in office looking uncomfortably at boss's hand on her shoulder

Sexual harassment is the most common claim of harassment that we investigate.

Harassment in the workplace is a form of discrimination. An employer that fails to take prompt and corrective action for a case of workplace harassment may be held liable in court should an impacted employee file a claim. Many employers will engage in a workplace investigation to identify and correct areas of concern. It is important to ensure that a workplace investigation is unbiased from the start, not only to uncover all issues but also to prevent further litigation.

woman in office looking uncomfortably at boss's hand on her shoulder

There are many benefits to hiring an outside firm for a workplace investigation. You will show your employees and shareholders that you take harassment claims seriously. With an outside investigator, there should be no credible allegation of an internal “whitewashing”. At Ablin Law, we have years of experience handling unbiased investigations both from a government enforcement perspective and from an internal employer perspective. This helps us to conduct each investigation in thorough detail and with a neutral eye.

What Constitutes Workplace Harassment?

Unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy, sexual orientation, trans and gender identity), national origin, age, disability, or genetic information is considered harassment. These protected groups are designated based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA), as well as state and local laws. At Ablin Law, sexual harassment is the most common claim of harassment that we investigate.

Isolated incidents, unless they are very serious, are usually not enough to constitute harassment. Unwelcome conduct crosses the line into illegal harassment when discriminatory comments or behavior creates a hostile work environment.  Workplace harassment often occurs when a supervisor makes discriminatory comments to one or more of their reports. The imbalance of power in the relationship can contribute to an intimidating work environment. However, an employee does not have to be a supervisor for their conduct towards another employee to be considered harassment. An employer may also be held liable for harassment by some non-employees, such as independent contractors or customers on the premises.

How Ablin Law Conducts Workplace Harassment Investigations

We begin each investigation by gathering documentation of the behavior in question, such as emails or video recordings. After that, we begin interviews with the parties involved, starting with the complainant. We record their perspective of the situation, documenting the details of the unwelcome conduct. From this conversation, we determine relevant witnesses and interview them next. Finally, we interview the individual accused of harassment.

In our experience conducting workplace investigations, my team and I have developed the ability to create ease during the interview process. By helping our interviewees feel relaxed, rather than rigid and constrained, we are able to gather more information from each conversation. Our aim is to make every person involved feel sufficiently comfortable to be open about the situation and their individual actions. By doing this, we are able to produce a more thorough report of the situation.

Once we have reviewed all the interviews and documentation, we share the results with the employer, and at the company’s request, we collect our findings into a report. The company, in turn, will make decisions based on the report. We draw on all of the evidence, documentation, and interviews to determine the results. When our work has concluded and the report has been delivered, it is up to the company to decide how they would like to move forward.

Benefits of Hiring a Workplace Investigation Firm

Companies usually hire an outside investigator for more complex and sensitive cases of harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires that workplace investigations be prompt, thorough and unbiased. An outside investigator can help a company avoid allegations of bias from within. Company attorneys can better do their job as an advocate when they do not have to be a neutral investigator. As a legal firm, Ablin Law can also blanket the investigation in privilege.

Ablin Law is a unique workplace investigation firm because I founded it after years of legal work representing both individuals through EEOC and corporations in-house. My experience gives Ablin Law a uniquely balanced perspective on investigations. This allows us to present a more neutral perspective and report than another law firm might produce.

Contact Ablin Law for more information on workplace harassment investigations.

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