Workplace investigations can be used for many reasons. They are often used as a means of determining whether there was an actual law violation taking place, or whether a complaint about specific actions took place. Sometimes, the investigations are used in line with an employee litigation process in which a supervisor will conduct his own investigation and determine whether or not his or her employee has violated any laws or regulations. More often than not, however, workplace investigations are undertaken for a completely different reason: to provide information that will help a decision about the termination of an employee to be made.
Keep Your Mouth Shut: Avoiding Unlawful Privacy Requests During Workplace Investigations
As previously stated, workplace investigations are conducted by many different people. While some are assigned solely to the subject matter (such as an auditor), others may be members of an investigative team that includes a lawyer or two. Regardless of who is conducting the investigation, it must remain confidential – no confidential information must be revealed to anyone other than those involved in the matter. As a result, all investigations require the same confidentiality rules as all other types of legal information.
In order to protect their subject’s rights, employers always have a legal right to ask questions during workplace investigations. Though asking questions is a wise precaution, employers should never ask questions that would reveal any information that is not pertinent to the case. In the past, some employers have used this as a way to dig up information against an employee, such as for information on any disciplinary action that was taken against the person. Employers must remain vigilant when it comes to conducting investigations and should never give any information away that could affect the outcome of an investigation.