Workplace Investigations: When To Call in the Professionals
Posted by Pamela S. on Friday, August 31st, 2012
Whether you are an owner of a small business or an executive with a large corporation, sooner or later you are bound to have a problem with an employee. Some issues can be dealt with through internal channels, but sometimes you need the expertise and impartial guidance of an expert.
Employee malfeasance can cost your business financially, lower morale and affect your organization’s reputation. When an employee has gone off the rails, you need to deal with it fairly, rapidly and consistently. In order to do so, you need to know when to escalate. Many companies don't know how to handle workplace investigations properly. You can make things worse, or leave yourself open to litigation if you don't handle a sensitive matter in the proper fashion.
It helps to have policies and procedures in place. To assure that all employees are familiar with the rules, prepare a company handbook or employee manual.
Even a small company can benefit by providing employees with a guide that states your company’s code of ethics and policies and procedures. The manual should include orientation procedures, definitions of employment, benefits, expectation of conduct and policies relating to discipline. This should include substance abuse, sexual harassment, attendance, workplace violence and other inappropriate acts.
Your manual should also include grounds for dismissal and due process. Don’t forget to cover policies regarding computer, Internet, email and telephone usage. If there are company vehicles or other equipment, this should also be mentioned. Documents, if appropriate, should include a confidentiality agreement and a non-compete agreement. Employees should sign a document stating that they have read and understand the contents of the manual.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, of the 17.2 million illicit drug users aged 18 or older in 2005, 12.9 million (74.8 percent) were employed either full or part time.
The OSHA recommends “a comprehensive drug-free workforce approach, which includes five components—a policy, supervisor training, employee education, employee assistance, and drug testing.”
The OSHA realizes that small businesses can’t afford all of these forms of intervention, such as employee assistance programs. They provide a “Drug-Free Workplace Policy Builder” on their website,
to assist you with developing a Policy Statement
If you believe that one of your employees has a drug or alcohol problem, the first step should be to help them get assistance for their problem. If the employee operates equipment or drives, they must be removed from that position immediately.
Sometimes you are sure that an employee is abusing drugs or alcohol, but they are denying, or you don’t have proof. If you don’t have a drug testing policy in place, and you are a unionized company, you are out of luck. A non-unionized company can ask the employee to submit to a test, but you should be prepared. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) provides guidelines on testing on their site.
If you suspect an employee is abusing substances and won't cooperate or is dealing drugs to other employees, this is the time to place a call to a private investigation agency that specializes in undercover assignments.
This is a very sensitive matter. Often it is difficult to get to the truth, because it is a “he said, she said” scenario. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides information on their website. It helps to bring in a professional investigator. People may feel more comfortable speaking with someone that they don't have to interact with on a daily basis. Harrassment can also be non-sexual in nature, such as racist comments or any other form of bullying.
Theft and Fraud
If you have safeguards in place, such as CCTV cameras, alarm systems, and other technology, you can often determine who is stealing and get the police involved. A private investigation and security company can assist you with a security system and provide other assistance in the form of guards, undercover operatives or surveillance. We can follow your delivery trucks or go undercover in your facility.
Fraudulent Health Claims
Malingering or faking injuries for compensation or benefits are much more common types of employee misconduct. Many employees don’t believe that they are doing anything wrong. The common rationale is “I paid into this insurance or benefit package, and it is my right to collect.” This is true, if it is a legitimate injury or sickness, but sometimes they are exaggerating or malingering. Surveillance of the employee’s daily activities can quickly resolve this issue.
If someone is making threats you don’t have a moment to waste. This is one problem you can’t deal with alone. It may be just talk, but if it escalates into an active shooter incident, you are going to be held liable because you didn’t intercede and bring in the proper authorities. Contact your local law enforcement agency.
Former FBI Assistant Director Tom Sheer has recruited the best from the FBI, DEA, IRS and Secret Service to build a formidable team at Sheer Investigations. Our private investigators have the sensitivity and experience to handle the most delicate investigations.