Key Takeaways on Conducting & Closing Effective Workplace Investigations

This article previously appeared on

Greg Keating, chair of Choate’s Labor Employment & Benefits and Whistleblower Defense Groups, and Diana Lloyd, co-chair of Choate’s Government Enforcement and Compliance Group, recently led sessions on workplace investigations during NAVEX Global’s May Master Class webinar, “Conducting and Closing Effective Workplace Investigations.”

Here are the key takeaways from the presentation.

Remember, It Depends

  • The nature of the alleged concern is going to dictate key decisions around who investigates, how the investigation is conducted and what kind of report, if any, is completed
  • At one end of the spectrum, complaints regarding employment issues (employee morale, boorish behavior) are generally investigated at the HR level
  • Employment issues which implicate legal liability such as harassment or discrimination require oversight from Legal
  • Concerns raised over perceived issues which implicate potential scrutiny by government agencies typically requires independent investigation by outside counsel

The Best Offense Is a Strong Defense

  • Be prepared beforehand in order to conduct an effective investigation by carefully thinking through the investigation protocols
  • Take a hard look at your “Speak-up” policy and ensure that you have adequate and varied reporting mechanisms
  • Consider training of frontline managers who are most often the ones that receive reports and ensure they understand their responsibility to report and remediate all concerns and to ensure against retaliation
  • Identify the various potential stakeholders in your organization and their anticipated roles based on the circumstances

Investigate Every Time

  • As Jack and Suzie Welch wrote in a 2012 Reuters op-ed, you must promptly and thoroughly investigate every concern and must resist the temptation to “wish whistleblowers away with the perfunctory spot check”
  • Consider providing the individual who has raised the concern with a dedicated contact to raise concerns regarding retaliation and advise managers that the organization will not tolerate retaliation or ostracism
  • In conducting the investigation, first gather and review data, then proceed to interviewing witnesses
  • Carefully consider reporting stage issues like whether to maintain attorney-client privilege, whether to create a full/limited written report or an oral report
  • Whenever possible, circle back with the individual who raised the issue in the first place to provide a summary of what your organization did, what it found and what it is doing to remediate

To learn more about workplace investigations and how you can protect your organization, visit or contact Greg Keating or Diana Lloyd directly with the information below. 

Greg Keating



+1 (617) 248-5163


View Master Class sessions on demand:

Chat with a solutions expert to learn how you can take your compliance program to the next level of maturity.

You’re Biased and That’s Normal. Also, Norms Need to Change | #YCDEthics

Data shows that gender bias is only remotely balanced at the bottom rung of organizations. The disparity grows exponentially as we travel up the organizational hierarchy. This means that people in power often confirm the biases of other people in power, and most of those people are men. Biases are normal, but they need to change for us to effectively eliminate harassment in the workplace.

Previous/Next Article Chevron Icon of a previous/next arrow. Previous Post

Four Phases of Corporate Culture Maturity from the SEC’s Chief Accountant

The chief accountant of the Securities and Exchange Commission recently outlined a corporate culture curve in which all organizations fall upon. The key to maturing your corporate culture is knowing where you currently sits on the curve. Let's discuss how to do that effectively.

Next Post Previous/Next Article Chevron Icon of a previous/next arrow.