Advantages of Hiring a Florida Lawyer as a Workplace InvestigatorAug 24, 2023
Workplace investigations are a crucial and oftentimes required aspect of maintaining a healthy and productive work environment. When allegations of misconduct, harassment, or discrimination arise, conducting a thorough and unbiased investigation is essential. Prompt and thorough investigations are also important to provide legal protections to the company. While many organizations rely on internal HR personnel to handle such investigations, there are several distinct advantages to enlisting the services of a Florida lawyer as a workplace investigator for Florida businesses.
1. Attorney Client Privilege
Communications between a company and a lawyer are protected from disclosure to a third party based on the attorney-client privilege. If the matter proceeds to litigation and the company does not wish to disclose the communications relating to the investigation, it may be protected from such disclosure. In comparison, there is no protection from disclosure when a company retains a Human Resources Consultant to investigate an employee complaint, and therefore, all communications and any investigative report will likely be subjected to disclosure to the opposing party in litigation.
2. Legal Expertise
One of the primary benefits of hiring a lawyer as a workplace investigator is their in-depth legal knowledge. Employment laws and regulations can be complex and vary by jurisdiction and industry. A Florida employment lawyer can ensure that the investigation is conducted in accordance with all applicable laws, reducing the risk of legal complications in the future. They can also provide guidance on potential liability and legal consequences, thereby helping the company make informed decisions that are in line with company standards and also are compliant with the Federal and Florida laws.
3. Lawyers are Approved Workplace Investigators
Lawyers are one of the permitted groups of people who are permitted to investigate – external Human Resource consultants who are not lawyer or private investigators should not conduct workplace investigations.
4. Objectivity and Impartiality
Workplace investigations require a high degree of objectivity and impartiality to ensure fairness and credibility. Lawyers, being independent third parties, are less likely to have personal biases or conflicts of interest within the company. In comparison, an internal HR professional may have prior knowledge of the incident or prior biases related to the individuals involved. Having a neutral third party, such as a lawyer, helps in maintaining the integrity of the investigation process and the credibility of its outcomes.
5. Comprehensive Documentation
A lawyer's experience in legal documentation can be invaluable during an investigation. They are skilled in gathering evidence, conducting interviews, and documenting the findings in a manner that holds up under legal scrutiny. Proper documentation is vital for protecting the organization from potential legal challenges and demonstrating that the investigation was conducted thoroughly and fairly.
6. Mitigating Legal Risks
Employment-related allegations can lead to costly legal battles if not handled properly. By involving a lawyer from the outset of an investigation, an organization can proactively identify and address potential legal risks. Lawyers can help design investigation strategies that consider legal nuances, reducing the chances of legal claims arising from an improperly conducted investigation.
7. Testimony at Trial
If the matter involving the investigation proceeds to trial, the workplace investigator may be deposed or may have to testify before a judge or jury. A lawyer likely has more experience with depositions, the court process and trial, and therefore, will likely be better prepared to testify at trial should the dispute proceed to litigation.
8. Effective Communication
Lawyers are skilled communicators who can navigate sensitive conversations with both the complainant and the accused. They can extract relevant information, ask probing questions, and maintain a neutral tone throughout the process. Effective communication is crucial for gathering accurate information and maintaining a professional atmosphere.
While internal HR personnel play an important role in workplace investigations, the benefits of hiring a lawyer as a workplace investigator are clear. From legal expertise and objectivity to comprehensive documentation and risk mitigation, lawyers bring a unique skill set that enhances the integrity and effectiveness of the investigation process. As organizations continue to prioritize a safe and compliant workplace, considering the involvement of a lawyer in workplace investigations is a strategic move that can yield significant long-term benefits.
For more information on workplace investigations in Florida, reach out to the Palm Beach County based employment firm, The Wannos Law Firm, P.A. and schedule an informational consultation.
You can also download the free resource: The Employers Guide to Conducting an Investigation of Harassment.
Disclaimer: This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney client relationship. Please consult with an employment lawyer before making an important business decisions.
The Wannos Law Firm, P.A. provides legal advice to Florida businesses. Karly Wannos is a workplace investigator for claims of discrimination, harassment and retaliation, Florida employment law mediator and provides training to businesses on employment laws.
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