As part of my practice, I provide resources to help business owners with their most valuable resources – employees. This assistance comes at the different points where risk occurs: investigation of complaints, mediation and reconciliation of disputes and human resources guidance.
Investigation of Complaints
Sometimes businesses need to have an outside party investigate complaints which come out of the workforce. Some instances in which it is beneficial to have an outside party conduct the investigation are:
- When a high-ranking company official is involved and there is concern about the impartiality of the investigator.
- When human resources personnel have been involved in the dispute so that partiality might be brought into question.
- When the employer thinks it might be more beneficial to have someone the employee and/or witnesses are more likely to talk openly to about the complaint.
- When the employer (or their counsel) thinks it might be more beneficial to have someone investigate the complaint from the perspective of the complainant’s lawyer.
In each of these instances, the employer and employee want basically the same things. First, they want a prompt investigation of their issues. I start investigations within 48 hours of receiving the engagement. Second, they want someone who is impartial. As an outside party, I owe no allegiance to either side. If I find something that needs to be corrected, I have done my job when I notify the employer of this need. I believe that if I can help the employer uncover the issue, then I have done the best job possible. Finally, both sides want a thorough investigation. I regularly review my investigative practices and ensure that I am employing the best practices.
Mediation and Conciliation of Employment Disputes
An employment dispute that spirals out of control is a huge risk for both parties. On the employer’s side, the risks are
- That the employee will continue to be dissatisfied, quit or be fired and cause the employer to have to incur additional cost and disruption with hiring and training a new employee.
- That the employee will not quit or be fired and will be a source of disruption or dispute within the work place.
- That the employee will file an EEOC Charge, Department of Labor complaint, unfair labor practice charge or lawsuit.
The risks, however, are not limited to the employer. On the employee’s side, the risk of an unresolved employment dispute are continued stress about the work situation or job loss.
The truth about all of this, however, is that employment disputes do not need to spiral out of control. Often the difference between a dispute that has gotten out of control and one that is managed and reconciled, is the intervention of a third party mediator.
A mediator is someone who is trained to work with both sides to a dispute and try to help them reach resolution. Mediators are not magic, we have to work hard at mediation and communicate with each side to reach a resolution. However, experience has taught that through this process many of these risks can be removed and a productive work environment restored.
In addition to being a licensed mediator, with more than 20 years of experience helping employees and employers with their employment issues, my practice is uniquely suited to help resolve these disputes.
One area in which smaller employers sometimes struggle is with the implementation of sound human resources policies and procedures. This can range from drafting an employee handbook to revising specific policies to ensure compliance with state and federal laws.
In addition to this, employers often need to have specific training programs for their employees to ensure compliance with the relevant employment laws. This can include training on the application of the Family and Medical Leave Act, how to handle or respond to employee complaints about the workplace or how to effectively implement employee discipline in difficult situations.
Whatever the need, with more than 20 years of experience in handling workplace disputes, my practice is well-suited to provide the help and guidance business owners need.