How to Conduct a Successful Internal Misconduct Investigation

By on August 18, 2017

Jeffrey Klink and David P. Nolan, Klink & Co.

Organizations of all sizes confront issues of misconduct. Setting aside allegations that must be investigated in a very specific way under state and federal labor and employment laws (sexual harassment or claims of bias, for example), there is a specific path that investigations should follow in order to determine if misconduct allegations have merit.

Begin by assessing the allegations. Carefully and discreetly analyze the issues, including the source or sources of the complaint. If you determine that the issues are specific and appear to have substance, assign appropriate personnel and other resources. Write the investigative plan – a flexible written overview of how to proceed – and follow it. Identify those whose conduct will be under review. Always perform background checks on the subjects to assess conflicts of interests, and obtain relevant public records.

In many cases, start with document and email retention, and review those documents before talking to people. Conduct site visits if appropriate, and then conduct interviews of knowledgeable people. Interview the subjects last, once you understand the facts. Review. Do you need to perform additional investigation? Conclude the investigation in a timely and effective manner. This would include removing bad actors. Institute internal controls to prevent future misconduct.

Draw fair conclusions, without hyperbole, and issue recommendations to improve processes. A thoughtful step-by-step internal investigation methodology will reduce risk and liability for your organization, maximize the opportunity to stop misconduct and improve controls.

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