Criminal issues bring a different perspective to corporate investigations

by on May 5, 2009 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: HR Info Center

Corporate investigation of criminal issues bring new aspects to internal investigations

Sarbanes-Oxley and white collar crimes
The congressman for your district has announced he’s cracking down on corporate fraud. A middle level accounting employee approaches your HR department and says “Well, I’m thinking about going to him about some suspicious things I’ve seen in the accounting department.”

This is an opportunity for you to start a corporate investigation and nip in the bud a potential Sarbanes-Oxley whistleblower issue. By just raising these concerns internal to the company, he is protected as a whistleblower under Sarbanes-Oxley. However, just thinking these thoughts and saying the same to the to the company has not yet triggered a congressional investigation or an SEC investigation.

If you do a good corporate investigation of his or her concerns, and persuade the individual that the company has taken it seriously and done the right thing, you may avoid those burdensome federal investigations.

The victim’s witness intimidation in a corporate investigation
A complaining employee in a sexual harassment investigation is not honoring the company’s request not to discuss the corporate investigation with employees and appears to be pressuring other employees to support their harassment allegations.

This is a situation that comes up with some frequency and the law has developed relatively well from the company perspective. Witness intimidation is not good no matter who’s doing it. The victim shouldn’t be intimidating witnesses nor should the company.

You should do it very delicately counsel the individual not to intimidate witnesses , be careful that you don’t go so far as to trigger retaliation claim yourself but is appropriate to counsel the individual that they should not be pressuring witnesses of the corporate investigation.

Workplace violence

The former husband of an employee is allegedly making threatening calls to the employee at work. However the employee has previously made allegations of harassment against coworkers that were not substantiated. What should you do when she says that the company should do something about the former husband calling during working hours?

This is indented to be a hard one, making the employee maybe lack some credibility to begin with. But it’s an easy one in the sense that whenever domestic violence is a potential issue, it should be taken seriously.

Many of the workplace violence incidents arise out of domestic violence. And so, the credibility issue is a bit of a red herring here. This is a situation where a corporate investigation is called for. You may want to bring in a threat assessor to find out how serious the issue is in their minds. So it would be a mistake to turn a blind eye when you have a domestic violence issue that is starting to bleed over into your workplace.

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