In the United States, employers are obligated to operate their businesses in compliance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. These laws and regulations have been created over time to protect employees from unethical or unscrupulous business owners.
Some of the areas covered by these California state laws or federal laws include:
- Protection against gender or sexual harassment
- Wrongful termination
- Harassment due to national origin
- Equal pay for equal work
- Age and disability discrimination
- Being accused of a more serious violation that may involve law enforcement
Under California law, many of these laws and regulations are enforced by the Fair Housing and Employment Act (FHEA), while the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces them on the federal level.
Under both state law and federal law, any time an employee makes a complaint of discrimination or harassment, their employer may be required to begin a prompt, complete, and impartial investigation.
The City of San Diego has an Ethics Ordinance that outlines rules of professional conduct. It applies to public city officials, based on the California Political Reform Act of 1974.
Depending upon the nature of the complaint, these may be handled as internal investigations by someone on the company’s legal staff or a human resources officer. Investigators from outside the workplace often handle more serious allegations that may involve the Board of Directors or senior managers.
Regardless of the nature of the complaint, it is in the employer’s best interests to address their employees’ concerns and conduct a thorough investigation.
What Is an Ethics Investigation in the Workplace?
A workplace ethics investigation may be the result of several factors:
- An employee who says they were fired because of their legally protected whistleblowing activities
- A transgender employee who says they were fired because of their gender expression
- A female employee made to feel uncomfortable because of offensive or crude memes on company email or social media
- An employee accused of fraud
Some other workplace issues that can trigger an ethics investigation include:
- Harassment based on age, race, color, gender, sexual orientation, physical disability, or national origin
- Workplace violence
When Should I Consider an Attorney for an Ethics Investigation?
Immediately. Many workplace ethics investigations involve complicated, complex, and frustrating procedures. They can also involve working with several different layers of state and federal government including the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Department of Labor as well as federal agencies like the EEOC.
Without legal help, an employee may not know all their rights in a workplace ethics investigation. Or an employer or internal investigator may not completely understand applicable state and federal law and not treat the employee fairly as a result.
Ethics Investigation Attorneys in San Diego
The law office at HKM Employment Attorneys represents employees in workplace investigations as well as numerous other practice areas involving employment law. We are a multi-jurisdictional law firm with offices in San Diego, representing employees from all over Southern California, including Los Angeles.
Our attorneys have a thorough understanding of California and federal employment laws, and we strive to develop strong attorney-client relationships that allow us to provide our clients with the solutions they need or want.
If you live in San Diego, San Diego County, Orange County or Riverside County and would like to have a consultation, call our office today.