Workplace Investigations

Why Investigate?

Increasingly, employers are recognizing the importance of workplace investigations not merely to ensure statutory compliance but to discover problems, prevent recurrence, take corrective action and prepare for mediation and/or arbitration. Common circumstances in which an employer should consider conducting an investigation include (but are not limited to) allegations of:

  • Discrimination
  • Harassment and/or violence
  • Inappropriate and/or unprofessional behaviour
  • Hostile or disruptive work environment
  • Threats
  • Vandalism and other sabotage
  • Violations of workplace rules/policies
  • Safety issues
  • Workplace theft
  • Substance abuse
  • Statutory violation
  • Workplace dispute

The Role of Sherrard Kuzz LLP

We regularly assist clients to plan and carry out effective and efficient workplace investigations by working with them to:

  • Assess the complaint or issue
  • Define and refine objectives. For example, is the objective:
    • Fact finding
    • To provide an opinion whether the conduct at issue constitutes a violation of legislation or a workplace policy?
    • Remedial recommendations
    • Remedial implementation
    • Policy amendments
    • Conflict resolution
  • Determine whether to involve an external expert, and if so, when and how
  • Provide legal and strategic advice from start to finish including best practices
  • Conduct the investigation (in whole or in part), and/or assist the client to conduct the investigation internally
  • Assist in the design and implementation  of recommendations and/or remedial steps
  • Assist in the design and implementation of self-audits (follow-ups) to ensure compliance with recommendations or remedial steps, if any

Our Investigative Principles

Our services are driven by the following principles:

Time is of the essence. We appreciate a workplace investigation or resolution of a workplace dispute must be timely, thorough and objective, while at the same time offer findings and recommendations that are not only accurate, but practical within the employer’s larger business and cultural environment.

One size does not fit all. We know from experience not all workplaces are created equally, and clients are best served by an investigative process that not only achieves legal compliance, but also reflects the client’s culture and furthers its operational objectives.

“Process” is as important as “outcome”. Courts and adjudicators have routinely commented on the need for workplace investigations to be performed in a thorough and impartial manner. We provide this service as a neutral, third party investigator with experience in all workplace matters.

Participants must be heard and respected. Participation in a workplace investigation or dispute resolution process is stressful. Not only for the immediate parties (e.g., complainant and respondent), but often for their family and friends, co-workers, witnesses, and the organization itself. Our team appreciates the need for discretion and the importance of recognizing and respecting the sensitivities of the process and the individuals involved. We also understand that even with the best of intentions an individual’s experiences and cultural or religious background can profoundly impact his or her perception of the facts and trust in the process. We leverage our experience as a firm to ensure every participant is heard and respected.

The cost of an investigation/mediation should never be a barrier to achieving the appropriate result. Our team understands the cost of an investigation is often a factor that may affect a client’s decision whether to use an internal or external investigator. We will always work with our client to design and implement a plan that meets its operational objectives and budget.

It’s not about us. We have no desire to see our names in lights. We are trusted advisers – focused on the most practical, cost-effective and discrete path.

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