Workplace Investigations by Outside Counsel – Make Sure They’re Done Right

Sara Rickover, Behind the Corporate Veil

MP900302920In a June 18, 2013, post on Win-Win HR, entitled Workplace Investigations: $300,000 in Sanctions Highlights Risks of Using Employer’s Regular Counsel, Lorene Schaefer highlighted a case in which an outside law firm’s investigation into a claim of discrimination led to an award of $300,000 in sanctions, plus other penalties against the employer and its law firm. See EEOC et al. v. Spitzer et al

After the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Vance v. Ball State (see the Vance opinion here and my earlier post here), workplace investigations into discrimination, harassment, and other employee claims, will be even more important. After Vance, courts will analyze fewer cases under a strict liability theory. More cases will depend on prompt and complete investigations to avoid findings that the employer was negligent and therefore liable for the bad conduct of the plaintiff’s managers and co-workers.

In the Spitzer case…

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About plushq

The Professional Liability Underwriting Society (PLUS) was founded in 1986 by industry professionals who recognized the need for a forum for individuals involved in the field of professional liability. The Society is a non-profit organization with membership open to persons interested in the promotion and development of the professional liability industry. Membership consists of over 6,500 individuals, representing over 1,000 companies active in the many fields of professional liability. PLUS currently receives the support of more than 200 companies through corporate membership. PLUS is recognized as the primary source of professional liability educational programs and seminars, assistance to its members to help serve clients, and information regarding professional liability. The Society is continually seeking new means to fulfill its mission statement and better serve its members.

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