Employees and gig workers have a legal right to report misconduct that they witness in the workplace and to participate in investigations about misconduct. The world would be a very different place if it were possible to make racism, sexual harassment, workplace safety hazards, and financial crime disappear just by reporting them. Anyone who has ever worked knows that that is not how things work, though. Seeking justice for discrimination and standing up for your right to engage in protected activities are a lot of work, and you often end up under just as much scrutiny as the entities whose wrongdoings you are pointing out. Even if you are not filing a lawsuit and if no one is suing you or accusing you of a crime, ethics investigations are much less stressful, and their outcome is more successful, if you work with an employment lawyer. If an ethics investigation is going on at your place of employment, or if one is about to start, contact the Irvine workplace ethics investigations lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP.
Why Do Workplace Ethics Investigations Happen in Irvine?
You have probably heard of the constitutional right to due process, which means that in criminal cases, the state must respect the legal rights of individuals. The 5th and 14th Amendments to the United States Constitution mention due process. Individuals also have legal rights outside the criminal cases. When an employee or former employee complains about their employer, the court or the official body involved, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), does not simply take the employee at their word and order the employer to pay damages or fines. Likewise, the relevant entity does not adopt an approach of “the employer is always right” and dismiss the wronged employee’s claims outright without first attempting to verify or corroborate them. In other words, there must first be an investigation to determine which side’s claims are more credible. The Irvine ethics investigation lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP can help you and advise you at every stage of the investigation.
Ethics Investigations are Stressful, but They are Better Than the Alternative
Almost any kind of formal complaint by an employee against an employer can initiate an investigation. These are some of the reasons that ethics investigations occur in the workplace:
- An employer and employee disagree about whether the employee is exempt from overtime pay
- An employer refuses a request for family or medical leave pursuant to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
- An employee reports illegal activity by the employer, pursuant to the federal False Claims Act or some other law governing whistleblower actions
- An employer refuses to renew an employee’s contract, and the employee alleges that it was because of racial discrimination
- An employee alleges that all of the employees who have received promotions since the current CEO was appointed are men and childless women, while mothers have routinely been denied promotions
- An employee reports a safety hazard or OSHA violation at their place of employment
- An employer and an employee disagree over whether the disability accommodation that the employee has requested is reasonable
- A business owner alleges that a former employee who has set up a new business in the same sector is unfairly competing with them and violating a non-compete agreement between the parties
In any of the above instances, it is fairer to conduct an investigation than simply to order the employer to pay damages or to leave the employee empty-handed. If you are an employee where an investigation is taking place, everything you do at work, and perhaps even some things you do outside of work, may potentially come under scrutiny, and investigators will want to know everything you know about the alleged misconduct. Almost anything you say could damage your relationship with coworkers and work supervisors, potentially making you a target for retaliation in the form of harassment or adverse actions by your employer, up to and including termination of employment. It is against the law for employers to retaliate against employees who participate in workplace ethics investigations or who file complaints that cause regulatory bodies to investigate; participating in workplace investigations is a protected activity. The Irvine ethics investigation lawyers can help you gather evidence and ensure that neither your employer nor investigators from outside your organization violate your rights.
In extreme cases, workplace ethics investigations can lead to criminal investigations, or the investigations into criminal and civil matters can run at the same time. Many criminal cases about financial crimes such as embezzlement and healthcare fraud have begun when an employee complained about misconduct by their employer. If you are a witness to an alleged crime that is under investigation, it is important to have a lawyer represent you.
Why You Should Have an Employment Lawyer Represent You During an Ethics Investigation in Irvine
It is stressful to have someone closely evaluate your actions or the actions of people in your immediate environment, looking for any signs of wrongdoing. If your workplace is the site of discrimination, sexual misconduct, safety violations, or crimes that have gone unchecked for years, then the investigation of which you have just received notice is only the tip of the iceberg. One investigation could lead to others, and the ugly behavior of corrupt, creepy, and bigoted people in positions of power tends to get uglier when they are in danger of being found out. Of course, not every workplace ethics investigation turns into the worst-case scenario, but just as even people who get amicable divorces hire lawyers, you should hire the Irvine ethics investigation lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP to advise and counsel you during investigations into misconduct and ethical violations at your workplace.
Contact HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP About Ethics Investigations in Irvine
HKM Employment Attorneys, LLP can help you comply with ethics investigations at your workplace while standing up for your own rights. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Irvine, California to set up a consultation.