As I’ve written about before, the plaintiff’s bar is growing increasingly sophisticated in its strategic efforts to attack employers’ internal workplace investigations. Unfortunately, too many employers have made themselves vulnerable to these attacks by failing to ensure that their internal workplace investigations are conducted by an impartial investigator or failing to ensure the investigation process is impartial.
The internal workplace investigation commissioned by the Miami Dolphins is an exception. When confronted with allegations of harassment and bullying by player Jonathan Martin, the Miami Dolphins leadership promptly retained an outside attorney to conduct an independent internal workplace investigation. According to the report issued by the investigation attorney, the Miami Dolphins also refrained from trying to influence the investigator and did not review or edit the investigation report.
Set forth below is the section of the report that describes the scope and independence of the investigation. Congratulations to the Miami Dolphins leadership team for responding promptly, thoroughly and impartially to the allegations of harassment and bullying. The full 144-page investigation report can be read by clicking here. It is an excellent example of a well-done, prompt, thorough and impartial internal workplace investigation.
B. The Scope and Independence of the Investigation
On November 6, 2013, Commissioner Goodell announced that he had retained Theodore V. Wells, Jr. and this law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, to conduct the independent investigation. The NFL’s press release states that our mandate was to “direct an independent investigation into issues of workplace conduct at the Miami Dolphins and prepare a report for the commissioner, which would be made public.”
Neither the NFL nor the Dolphins imposed any constraints on the investigation. Paul, Weiss received the full cooperation of the league, the Dolphins organization (including current and former players, coaches, front-office staff and other personnel) and the NFLPA. We had authority to request interviews of anyone deemed to have relevant information, including present and former NFL players, coaches, staff and personnel. We were given access to pertinent documents from the NFL and the Dolphins. Our investigation took place independently from any concurrent inquiries undertaken by the NFLPA, the Dolphins or individual players and their attorneys.
Quoted from page 52 of investigation report.
Read more articles about managing workplace conflict at Win-Win HR, a blog by Lorene Schaefer.
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