Workplace investigations and stories

workplace investigation

Workplace Investigations Stories

A sales rep submits an extravagant expense report with questionable “business” claims. An IT consultant accuses a co-worker of sexual assault. A caller says their supervisor sells drugs from her office.

These situations are unpleasant for everyone involved—the victim, the whistleblower, the accused, the eyewitness, and the compliance officer. In cases of alleged misconduct, the last person on that list is judge, jury, and executioner (or terminator).

Gary Pinchen discusses some unusual actual inquiries and unfair dismissal cases.

Even the most confident compliance officers may pause before answering this question during an unsavoury or delicate workplace investigation. Interviewee lying?

Employees Could Be Fired

Being wrong has dicey consequences. A compliance officer’s credibility assessment affects individuals and the company. If the compliance officer miscalculates or believes the wrong party, the company could face a wrongful termination lawsuit or a culture of distrust.

Have you heard of the dead body in the river? No, it’s not the start of a joke; it’s what an employee in a caravan park that backs onto a river discovered during a workplace investigation last year. The employer wanted him to pull the body from the river because it might upset caravan park guests. For refusing, he was fired.

We’re not making fun of your story or situation, but we believe you. People live sheltered lives offline due to social media. When you experience it, it’s real. Your career and reputation are at risk. Possible dismissal.

Seven Workplace Investigations That Happened

1. The Chicken Hold

One male employee denied sexually harassing a female co-worker. The alleged victim, witnesses, and the employee’s supervisor were interviewed.

The accused denied harassing his co-worker when asked. To put her in a “chicken hold” against her will. Isn’t that fine? He was punished and counselled.

lodge an unfair dismissal claim if you have been wrongfully terminated from employment

2. The Student Scam

The assistant auditor uncovered possible fraud after finding anomalies in a large university’s finances. Simultaneously, international students complained that their visas were revoked for unpaid fees. Police and Border patrol investigated.

After interviewing accounts employees, students, and auditors, investigators found that an accounts receivables clerk had skimmed more than $100,000 from the university’s accounts.

Fraud and dismissal charges followed.

3. The Urine Collector

A construction worker’s co-workers accused him of keeping 30 urine bottles in his desk drawer. Management suspected a case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) despite the dangers of labelling employees based on their behaviour.

The employee was storing urine in his desk drawer, but not due to OCD. According to the investigation, he was selling the bottles to co-workers to help them pass mandatory drug tests.

He was appropriately disciplined, and a new investigation was launched to find the drug-free sample purchasers.

Other stories included felony charges against high-level managers, sexual harassment allegations, and a murder conviction.

Face of a scruffy cat

4. Meowing employee

A female employee once complained that someone in her department kept meowing and it was getting A female co-worker once complained that someone in her department kept meowing. I invited the worker to my office. “You’re not in trouble, but an employee told us you keep meowing.” Her response: “This is Australia, I have freedom of speech” and “if a cat meows in a commercial, does she get mad at the cat?” “No, it’s a cat,” I replied. It’ll meow. This continued until she stopped. Meowing was unwarranted.

drug test = workplace investigation

5. Failed drug test

A male employee failed a lab drug test. He claimed it wasn’t his fault at the office. He was driving and stuck his head out the window, he said. When the car passed under a bridge, someone threw cocaine at him, and he inhaled it.

privacy intrusion - workplace investigation

6. Opening another employees package

While I was at lunch, a package came for me because I ordered a t-shirt online last week. It was on my desk and when I opened it, there was a pair of socks in it and I could tell the package had been opened and taped back up. When I went into the worker’s office, he was wearing the t-shirt. He did not have my permission to open the package or touch my personal property.”

7. Inappropriate behaviour

I’d just hired a young man. On his first day, one of the fluorescent lights went out. I asked him to change it, he of course complied. He climbed a desk, switched a bulb, then jumped down.

As he landed, his pants seam blew. He was embarrassed by the ripping sound. I told him to go to the bathroom, take off his pants, and give them to me, crying. I sewed up his seam. On your first day of work, your boss sews up your pants? I thought then he’d be a good worker. Until the sexual harassment accusation.

Conclusion to Workplace investigations and stories

The article is brief. The key here is that a proper workplace investigation must be conducted in each individual situation. Employees and employers have rights. How they are excised is the important thing. Disputes can be taken to the Fair work Commission, if they qualify.