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Here's what I had to say about outside investigators v. internal investigations in one of my recent newsletters:
· Should you use an internal or an external investigator?
An in-house investigator brings knowledge of the organization’s culture, procedures and players to the inquiry. An outsider faces a learning curve but adds an element of objectivity that may otherwise be lacking. In making the selection, issues to be considered include the possibility that the investigator will one day be a witness in criminal and/or civil proceedings. Consequently, the company may not want to give the assignment to outside labor counsel, who then might be disqualified from representing the firm at trial. Note, too, that if the investigation is aimed at avoiding vicarious corporate liability in a sex harassment case, the investigator’s notes will be discoverable, even if that investigator is legal counsel.
The Freeh Report demonstrates dramatically what can come out, when an external investigator is given free rein. The board and/or senior management which sets such an inquiry in motion must be prepared to address both the findings and the publicity that potentially may emerge. Clearly, PSU officials kept matters close to their vests due to Sandusky’s prominence and the potential impact of his conduct, if the accusations proved to be accurate, upon the upon the university’s internationally acclaimed football program.
But even when far less is at stake, confidentiality is almost always desired.
This from the February 2013 issue of the Termination of Employment Bulletin: