Open the Blinds Workplace Investigations, LLC
Open the BlindsWorkplace Investigations offers impartial EEO and cultural workplace investigations, and HR consulting.
Toxic workplaces do not usually arise overnight (although one bad hire can cause rapid degradation). Employers are often better off hiring an outsider to evaluate what is causing a hostile work environment or sharp decline in productivity, so that the human resources issues can be addressed. But at least as important as profitability are the legal ramifications of allowing such a situation to continue.
The MeToo movement has led to increased awareness of the negative effects of sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers who ignore the complaints of their employees do so at considerable risk. Victims of harassment may quit because of that experience, depriving their employer of a valuable employee. Or they may become much less productive as a result of their distress and perceived lack of value in their job. Other employees who witness harassment, and see that nothing is done about it, may develop a cynical attitude. Morale and loyalty suffer. Finally, aggrieved employees may sue the employer, leading to disruption, legal expenses and potential payouts to the harassed employee.
An employer who has notice, by complaint or otherwise, of illegal harassment has the obligation to investigate the claims and, if they are well-founded, to take appropriate steps to resolve the problem. These are easier to accomplish if there is a single harasser, an outlier, who can be retrained or let go. But if the culture of the workplace discourages complaints, or tolerates harassment on the basis of gender, race, disability or any other protected category, the internal investigation is likely to be ineffective. If the alleged harasser’s status level exceeds the power of HR to causes a change in the behavior, then, again, am internal investigation will not be perceived as unbiased or effective.
Impartial investigations by an outside investigator who neither knows the people nor has a vested interest in any outcome are the answer for many companies. Independent investigations are valuable for smaller employers whose Human Resources person is too close the situation, and to larger employers who need a fresh eye on a persistent or public relations problem.