Workplace investigations — Pennsylvania
The importance of investigating employee complaints
Although it is a best practice for employers to conduct investigations of employee complaints or accidents, Pennsylvania employers often conduct workplace investigations because of federal and state statutorily imposed requirements. Indeed, under various civil rights and whistleblower protection laws, such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or Dodd-Frank, as well as health and safety laws, it is either required or good practice for employers to investigate complaints or accidents and take appropriate action. Recent court cases reflect additional civil rights protections and investigative requirements in the context of employers that receive federal funds to provide educational programs or activities (i.e. medical residency programs). Further, the wave of national movements (e.g., #MeToo, #TimesUp) on sexual harassment and gender-based and racial discrimination has spurred increased reporting, leaving employers with the complex task of investigating word against word credibility-based claims of discrimination and harassment. This national political and cultural shift places a premium on reliable, informed and effective workplace investigations. As a practical matter, after a written or oral complaint is made by an employee regarding improper conduct, an affirmative duty may arise requiring the employer to investigate...
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