Workplace Investigations

News & Analysis as of

Five Ways to Survive a Department of Labor (“DOL”) Health and Welfare Plan Investigation

DOL health and welfare plan investigations are on the rise. There are best practices for plans chosen for investigation: 1. Get Employee Benefits Counsel Involved Early. The DOL investigation process generally...more

Federal Court Allows the EEOC to Conduct Investigation on Employer’s Premises Without Employer Consent or a Warrant

Many employers are familiar with the fact that the EEOC regularly conducts on-site workplace investigations after receiving charges of discrimination or harassment. A recent federal court decision, however, may lead to an...more

Ripped From the Headlines: Three Investigation Lessons to Learn From a Political Controversy

Another day, another political scandal involving a politician accused of having had an extramarital affair. The latest such story concerns an alleged inappropriate relationship that the governor of Alabama had with a top...more

Knock-Knock, Who’s There? The EEOC: When the EEOC Can Investigate an Employer’s Premises Without Prior Consent

When the EEOC investigates a charge of discrimination, it may employ one of several investigatory methods, including site inspections. In EEOC v. Nucor Steel Gallatin, Inc., a case of national first impression, a Kentucky...more

The Supreme Court of Canada grants leave to appeal in drug and alcohol policy matter

Once again, the issue of drug and alcohol testing and policies will be subject to appeal; but this time before the Supreme Court of Canada, as it recently granted leave to appeal in Stewart v. Elk Valley Coal Corporation et...more

EEOC Implements New, Nationwide Procedures for Position Statements

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (“the EEOC”) has implemented new procedures for employer position statements that apply to all EEOC requests for position statements made on or after January 1, 2016. Most...more

Expect More Comprehensive OSHA Inspections Under a New “Enforcement Weighting System”

Over the course of the next year, employers can expect to see longer, more comprehensive OSHA inspections that focus on complex safety and health hazards. This change is associated with OSHA’s new enforcement protocol it...more

Why Shouldn’t Supervisors Investigate Workplace Harassment? They’re Too Normal.

I have recommended on this blog and in harassment training that “operations” people (in other words, people who aren’t in Human Resources or lawyers) avoid the temptation to investigate workplace harassment complaints on...more

Avoid These Three Investigation Traps!

Conducting workplace investigations is not easy. The process is filled with land mines that can trip up even the most experienced investigator. Although there are many mistakes I’ve seen investigators make, these are the...more

OSHA Issues New Whistleblower Investigations Manual

Following through on its April 2015 “clarification” of the investigative standard in whistleblower matters, OSHA issued a new whistleblower investigations manual overnight restating the mission of its...more

OSHA Announces Significant Increases in Civil Penalties, Marking First Time Maximum Fines for Violations Have Risen Since 1990

On November 2, 2015, President Barack Obama signed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. Obscured within the lengthy bill is a provision that not only mandates a current increase in the penalties for violations of standards...more

Does your safety policy require an accident investigation? Court suggests investigation file may not be litigation privileged

An Alberta judge has suggested that if a workplace safety policy or program requires that certain accidents be investigated, then the accident investigation reports may not be subject to litigation privilege – meaning that...more

Refusing to provide a written statement to an investigating officer did not constitute obstruction of a safety officer but...

This case serves as an example of what degree of conduct will or will not constitute obstruction of an officer in a workplace investigation. The accused was charged under the Safety Act (NWT) with 2 counts of obstructing...more

Best Practices for Preventing Workplace Harassment Claims

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held its second public meeting in Los Angeles with a group of experts selected to serve on the EEOC’s Select Task Force on the Study of Harassment in...more

Update – New OSHA Maximum Penalty Amounts Become More Clear – October, 2015 CPI Released

As we mentioned in our previous blog, the bipartisan budget signed by President Obama on November 2, 2015 contains provisions that will allow OSHA to raise maximum penalties for the first time in 25 years. The maximum...more

It’s Time to Review and Update Safety and Compliance Regimens – OSHA Penalties Set to Surge in 2016

For the first time since 1990, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been authorized to increase its civil penalties. The provision was inserted into the expansive Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which...more

D.C. Circuit Upholds NLRB's Continued Targeting of Workplace Rules

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB or the Board) has continued its trend of subjecting employer work rules to scrutiny as to whether they unlawfully restrict workers' rights to form or join labor organizations, bargain...more

Caution: Your Workplace Accident Investigation May Be Used Against You!

Last week, I posted about OSHA’s expected final rule on a public database of workplace injuries and illnesses. While that expected rule would require employers to submit their injury and illness records to OSHA electronically...more

Socially Aware: The Social Media Law Update Volume 6, Issue 4

Five social media law issues to discuss with your clients - The explosive growth of social media has clients facing legal questions that didn’t even exist a few short years ago. Helping your clients navigate this...more

Top 10 Workplace Investigation Mistakes: Part II

In part one of this two-part series, we covered five of the most common mistakes that employers make while conducting workplace investigations, including poor complaint mechanisms, ignoring employee complaints, failing to...more

OSHA Updates its Field Operations Manual

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has just released a substantial update to its Field Operations Manual (FOM), CPL 02-00-159 (October 1, 2015). The FOM is a reference document for OSHA field personnel...more

Questions Remain About Social Media Privacy Rights During Workplace Investigations

Employees’ social media activities often play a key role in workplace investigations. For example, an employee may complain that a coworker sent a harassing Facebook message or posted something offensive on Twitter...more

Be Aware of Public Employees Disciplinary Proceedings Protections: Loudermill, Wiengarten and Garrity

This post is primarily for public sector employers such as state agencies, municipalities and districts. By virtue of being employed by the government and quite likely represented by a labor union, public sector employees in...more

Can Employers in the Fifth Circuit Be Liable for Retaliation Under Title VII When the Decision Maker Had No Retaliatory Motive?

In Zamora v. City of Houston, 14-20125 (Aug. 19, 2015), the Fifth Circuit joined the Sixth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits in holding that the “cat’s paw” theory of causation can also be utilized in Title VII retaliation cases,...more

The Employment Law Authority - July/August 2015

A federal appellate court recently reinstated a lawsuit brought by a dining services employee who claimed that she was sexually harassed by a male coworker. According to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, a reasonable jury...more

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