Employee Misconduct Investigations
For many, "employee misconduct" may seem like a loaded term akin to "risk management" or "business services." Essentially, employee misconduct represents wrongful, improper and in some cases, illegal conduct by an employee.
Most employers provide employees with a handbook of prohibited activities, such as using one’s cell phone during business hours for non-business purposes or using company funds for personal expenses. In addition, many businesses issue guidelines of specific job requirements, such as wearing particular safety gear as required by a regulatory agency.
Employers also rely on employees to apply common sense and professional etiquette when on company time and property and when representing their employer.
Employee Investigations The Business Challenge
There are a plethora of actions and situations that can be construed as examples of employee misconduct that necessitate an employee investigation.
A few of the most common examples:
- An employee uses a company-owned computer to send romantic e-mail messages to their significant other
- An employee is verbally abusive toward another employee or customer
- An employee continuously disrupts or distracts co-workers
- An employee is habitually absent or tardy
- An employee uses company funds for personal expenses
- An employee is insubordinate, refusing to follow direct orders
- An employee sexually harasses a co-worker, vendor or customer
- An employee taking proprietary information, intellectual property or trade secrets and using them in a non-approved manner
- An employee accepts gratuities from clients, such as cash or gifts in exchange for a beneficial relationship
- An employee starts their own business that directly competes with their employer (an example of a "conflict of interest")
- An employee becomes physically aggressive or makes threatening remarks
- An employee comes to work impaired from drugs and/or alcohol
- An employee is idling or sleeping rather than performing their job duties
Our experienced employee investigations team has dealt with each of the issues mentioned above and have helped employers respond to emergencies stemming from employee misconduct. Call us today to see if we can help with your specific issues.
Not surprisingly, one of the biggest threats to a business is a poorly worded and/or incomplete employee policy handbook. When policies are not clearly and explicitly communicated to employees, it can create confusion ("I didn’t know it was against company policy") and lead to an uneven application of company policies, which can itself lead to claims of discriminatory or retaliatory practices; for example, a "get-out-of-jail-free" situation is often created when an employer can’t discipline an employee because the specific conduct they engaged in wasn’t technically prohibited in the employer’s policies at the time the unwanted conduct occurs.
Employees disciplined after the change in policy may allege they were unfairly targeted for discipline while previous offenders were only given verbal warnings, if at all.
We have seen it all, from employees involved in sabotaging processing and packaging equipment, to excessive volume theft of grocery inventory, substance abuse while working, violence among co-workers, and many other less-than-palatable unmentionables.
Our firm conducts thorough, independent investigations for companies and the law firms that represent them. If immediate action is required, our experienced investigators work with your senior management team to ensure a timely response.