In the event that an incident or wrongdoing occurs at your company, such as employee theft, harassment or drug abuse, fast and effective action is necessary to mitigate the situation and avoid liability. Here, the digital forensics specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics detail the important steps you should take during a proper workplace investigation.
When Should a Workplace Investigation Take Place?
Not all internal dilemmas require investigations, especially if the problem is agreed up as minor by both parties involved. However, serious issues that require legal involvement, such as sexual harassment or employee data theft, should be handled with immediate care and urgency.
What Steps Should I Take to Ensure a Smooth Investigation?
Choose an Investigator
When conducting an investigation, it is advisable to choose an experienced and impartial investigator who can handle the investigation with professionalism and even testify in court if necessary. Many investigators chosen to handle a workplace incident are current employees, but there are also outside investigators that can be hired to run the investigation.
Plan the Investigation
To begin an investigation, first take time to organize your thoughts, gather information you already have concerning the issue at hand and allow this information to be your guide. Useful information that could be collected for evidence in your investigation could be employee complaints, supervisor’s reports, written warnings or threatening, inappropriate or otherwise revealing emails. Once you collect all relevant information on the matter, you may wish to conduct interviews with employees or ask relevant supervisors or staff members for any other potentially incriminating documents.
Conduct Workplace Interviews
Conducting interviews with staff members who may hold knowledge about the incident is an important method of collecting potential evidence. In addition to interviewing staff members, it may also be necessary to talk with witnesses to the event you are investigating, if necessary or applicable.
Gather and Evaluate Evidence
Once you have gathered all relevant and necessary information available on the incident you are investigating, it is important to evaluate the evidence to decide what actually happened and what decision you should make next. Evaluate the trends in evidence and witness testimony as well as any patterns or revealing information in collected documents in order to determine the most appropriate next steps.
Make a Decision
After evaluating all information collected, and concluding that a wrongdoing did occur, it is time to decide whether or not to take action. If you have found that a serious wrongdoing was committed by an employee, it is advisable to take disciplinary action immediately in order to avoid legal liability for the employee’s behavior and protect your company.
Document the Investigation I
t is advisable to create an investigation report that explains the actions you took and why you took them. This step can protect you in possible lawsuits related to the incident as well as provide an official written record to be used for reference in case of future misconduct by other employees. A proper investigation report should include important dates, including when you became aware of the wrongdoing at hand and when you conducted interviews, as well as what interviews you conducted, evidence you collected and the conclusions you reached.
Develop Results and Follow Up
Once the investigation has been documented, follow up with the individuals involved in the investigation to ensure the issue has been resolved. Also, be sure to follow up on the responsible employee’s consequences and ensure that the misconduct has stopped. In addition, take necessary steps to prevent misconduct from happening again in the future.
Discuss How to Properly Handle a Workplace Investigation with Atlantic Data Forensics
While we may wish our workplace environment could be free of conflict at all times, unfortunate instances can occur where a disgruntled, dishonest or otherwise inappropriate employee can create issues that impact your company or other employees. While these events are adverse, there are steps you can take to ensure that an issue within the company involving an employee wrongdoing can be mitigated as effectively as possible so your workplace can return to normalcy. If an issue within your company concerning another employee’s actions requires a proper workplace investigation, contact the digital forensics specialists at Atlantic Data Forensics today, who can help you collect digital evidence you may need to resolve your conflict.