Let's face it—stuff happens! Regardless of our honorable intentions and best laid plans, even the most effective organization can only minimize the risks and effects of adversity, be prepared if an adversity occurs, and take prudent steps to prevent recurrences. An organization's ability to implement risk management measures depends on having good information about events that have happened in the past, and this is especially true when they've happened to you. Stated otherwise, experience is often the best teacher…but only if you're paying attention in class!
Conducting effective post-occurrence investigations is an excellent way for organizations to understand the causes and contributors to an adverse event, discover the true effects of the event, and implement remedial and preventive actions. If done correctly, it can also be an effective measure to protect the organization against potential legal, regulatory, and enforcement actions related to the event, and can be an effective public relations tool applied in the recovery phase after an event or crisis.
If the organization may take disciplinary action against an employee related to the event, ethics and fairness require the organization to base its action on an objective and thorough review of the facts. Conducting a proper and effective investigation into an event involves more than appointing someone with a title to write a few paragraphs on a memo. It instead requires a well-reasoned, legally defensible, and timely inquiry into the totality of the facts, a proper analysis of applicable law, regulation, or other controlling authority, and timely, proper management action founded on solid facts and law.
Edmond Murray can conduct confidential investigations on behalf of your organization, or assist your staff in doing so as needed. We can teach your existing staff to conduct proper internal investigations or review the results of your completed investigations and offer independent third-party support for your conclusions and actions. Having this function performed by an outside party who are also lawyers carries with it certain benefits. For example, employees are often more comfortable revealing important facts to neutral third parties rather than telling them to their co-workers or superiors whom they will see and work with every day after the investigation is done. Additionally, your conclusions and remedial actions are likely to be more credible in the eyes of outside stakeholders and the public if they are independently supported by a qualified reviewer.