Frequently Asked Questions

When is an investigation necessary?

Under California law, employers must investigate any claim of harassment, discrimination or retaliation. The employer has an affirmative duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment and discrimination from occurring.

Investigations may also be helpful to determine other types of workplace misconduct such as fraud, theft, bullying or violation of law or the employer’s policies.

Who should conduct the investigation?

The investigator should be impartial and should possess the training and experience necessary to conduct the specific investigation. Another factor to be considered is whether the investigator would make a good witness at trial, should it be necessary.

Why use an outside investigator?

The sensitivity of the allegations being investigated or the level of the subject of the investigation in the organization may also call for an outside investigator. Concerns about the likelihood that litigation will follow may also be grounds for utilizing the services of an outside investigator. Investigators are often called as witnesses at trial and as such, their training and credentials may be challenged, as well as their impartiality.

Many employers are understaffed and therefore, have insufficient personnel to conduct investigations. While many human resources professionals have been trained to conduct investigations, their workloads may be such that conducting a prompt and thorough investigation is not possible at the time it is needed. Or, the internal investigator may simply be too close to the involved parties.

What is the benefit of retaining a lawyer investigator?

Although the employer’s human resources or other internal investigator can adequately handle some investigations, an outside attorney investigator may be better suited for others. When investigating a complaint against a senior member of the organization, an outside attorney will likely be viewed as being more objective. An attorney investigator will also have knowledge of potential legal claims and how to mitigate them.

What is the cost of an investigation?

Every case is unique. The cost of the investigation will depend on a number of factors such as: how many issues are being investigated, the severity of the allegations, how many witnesses are interviewed and the volume of documents that must be reviewed. A cost estimate will be provided prior to the commencement of the investigation and will be based on the information known at the time. Our rates are competitive, with discounted rates for public agencies and non-profit organizations.

How does the investigator provide the results of the investigation?

A written report is provided to the employer outlining the issues investigated, interviews conducted, documents and other evidence reviewed. The report will include summaries of witness statements and other evidence and will provide factual findings.