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LEGAL INVESTIGATIONS

Joshua Newville, Minnesota Employment Lawyer, Civil Rights Attorney, and Mediator

There are times when it makes sense for businesses and organizations to use outside investigators for sensitive matters involving law and ethics. Examples include employee disputes and allegations of misconduct, harassment, discrimination, retaliation, and other wrongdoing. 

Minnesota Legal Investigations Attorney

I am an experienced employment law and civil rights attorney. I advise and represent both individuals and companies. I am also a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral, serve as an ethics investigator for the lawyer discipline system, and have performed investigations in the private sector for 20 years. I can assist you with your investigation needs regardless of whether they are related to an isolated allegation or a wide-sweeping and complicated matter. 

Why do companies hire outside attorneys to perform legal investigations?

There are a number of reasons that businesses and organizations hire outside attorneys to perform legal investigations, including but not limited to:

  • Neutrality: An outside attorney can provide an unbiased and objective perspective. This can be particularly important if the issue involves high-ranking employees or allegations of systemic issues within the organization.

  • Expertise: Employment law and civil rights are complex areas of law. An attorney with expertise in these areas can help ensure that the investigation is thorough, complies with all relevant laws, and appropriately addresses the issues at hand.

  • Credibility: If a company is facing potential litigation or a regulatory inquiry, having the investigation conducted by an outside attorney can lend credibility to the findings and demonstrate to courts, regulators, and the public that the company is taking the matter seriously.

  • Attorney-Client Privilege: While not absolute, communications with an attorney during an investigation can often be protected by attorney-client privilege, which can help protect sensitive information.

For what types of cases do businesses typically hire a legal investigator?

Companies often retain outside investigators for cases that involve serious allegations that could have significant legal or reputational consequences. These might include claims of:

  • Sexual harassment or other forms of harassment.

  • Discrimination based on protected characteristics like race, gender, age, disability, or sexual orientation.

  • Retaliation against employees who have reported misconduct or exercised their legal rights.

  • Violations of wage and hour laws.

  • Whistleblower complaints alleging legal or regulatory violations.

What is the process for a legal investigation? 

The specifics of each legal investigation can vary, but a typical investigation might look like this:

  1. Initiation: The attorney will define the scope of the investigation with the company, and the company will provide relevant documents and information.

  2. Document Review: The attorney will review relevant documents. This could include emails, text messages, company policies, personnel files, and more.

  3. Interviews: The attorney will conduct interviews with relevant parties, including the person who made the complaint, the person accused, and any witnesses.

  4. Analysis and Findings: The attorney will analyze the evidence and make findings about what occurred.

  5. Report: The attorney will provide a report to the company detailing their findings and may provide recommendations for action.

What are the potential outcomes of a legal investigation? 

The outcome of an investigation will depend on the findings. Possible outcomes could include:

  • Disciplinary Action: If the investigation substantiates the allegations, the company might take disciplinary action against the offending party. This could range from counseling or training to suspension, demotion, or termination, depending on the severity of the misconduct.

  • Policy Changes: The investigation might reveal systemic issues or policy gaps that contributed to the misconduct. In this case, the company might revise its policies or implement new ones.

  • Training: The company might provide training to employees to prevent future misconduct.

  • Legal Action: If the allegations are serious and substantiated, the company might face legal action, such as a lawsuit or regulatory action. The company might also choose to take legal action, such as suing a former employee for theft of trade secrets.

  • No Action: If the investigation does not substantiate the allegations, the company might choose to take no action.

An attorney experienced in legal investigations can guide a company through the investigation process and help it navigate these potential outcomes while minimizing legal risk.

Related Topics:

Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
Minnesota Employment Law Mediator
Minnesota Civil Rights Attorney
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