Discrimination and Hostile Work Environment
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and other statutes and legal precedents prohibit certain kinds of discrimination in the workplace and impose affirmative duties on employers to investigate claims of discrimination and provide preventative training.
These laws not only apply to companies based in the United States, but also to multi-national companies doing business in the United States.
Several high profile discrimination lawsuits recently have threatened the reputations and businesses of major corporations.
- Wal-Mart is still defending a 2001 class action suit filed by six current and former female employees claiming that Wal-Mart discriminates against its female employees in making promotions, job assignments, pay decisions and training, and retaliates against women who complain about such practices.
- In 2004, Sunoco agreed to pay $5.4 million to more than 200 African American professionals who claimed they hit a “glass ceiling” blocking promotion because of their race.
Scores of other companies have experienced similar lawsuits, fines, penalties and damages to reputation.
Members of the UHY Advisors team have extensive experience guiding Fortune 500 companies, as well as smaller enterprises, through the requirements imposed by law to ensure that employees are provided with a non-hostile work environment, free from discrimination. We have conducted dozens of investigations on behalf of management, in-house counsel and outside counsel with respect to discrimination claims brought against employers. In certain instances, our investigations have uncovered pervasive discrimination and have identified the persons responsible for such acts. In those cases, we have worked with management to implement best practices designed to prevent future occurrences.
In other situations, we have determined that certain claims were without merit and were brought by a disgruntled and/or incompetent employee. Regardless of the situation, UHY Advisors’ expertise in employment discrimination and hostile workplace investigations can provide an edge to assure compliance with federal and state laws, defend EEOC investigations and lawsuits and minimize the related financial and reputational risk to your organization.
Workplace violence can take many forms and can have an enormously negative impact on employees. Aggressive behavior by an employee toward other employees, management and customers can range from annoying or disruptive behavior such as slamming doors and storming around the office, to violent criminal acts, such as a physical touching or armed assault. In addition to the negative psychological impact workplace violence can have on employees morale and productivity, employers face several additional risks in the form of duties and liabilities, including respondeat superior liability, negligent hiring, supervision or retention claims, hostile work environment allegations and premises liability.
UHY Advisors professionals have been leaders in the investigation and prevention of violence in the workplace. Recognized as experts, our former law enforcement personnel and prosecutors have provided testimony and guidance in the prevention of and response to violent incidents. We work with our clients to prevent violent workplace incidents by identifying physical and organizations risks, identifying potential offenders, developing written policies for workplace conduct and incident response and implementing preventative training for management and employees. We have assisted in drafting security industry guidelines for Workplace Violence Prevention and Response.
We have also conducted numerous investigations involving workplace violence and have been retained to develop operational and management strategies to ensure these types of incidents do not reoccur. We conduct comprehensive assessments of each incident, provide on-site crisis intervention activities and personal protection details, follow-up with employees and guide our clients through recovery.
Trade Secret Theft
The security and confidentiality of a company’s proprietary information and trade secrets are often essential to maintaining a company’s value. An enterprise can spend millions of dollars developing new technologies, methods, products and other assets that increase its shareholder value and provide for further expansion of the firm’s revenues. When the security and confidentiality of this valuable information is breached, a company can be placed in a precarious situation.
The threat to the security of trade secrets can come from within or from outside of a corporation. Current employees may misappropriate a company’s trade secrets for a multitude of reasons including, dissatisfaction in the workplace, to start a competitor business or in exchange for kickbacks from a competitor. Outside forces, such as competitors, may also attempt to gain a competitive advantage by unlawfully accessing proprietary information including, computer systems, confidential documents and other information containing a company’s intellectual property.
Confidentiality of internal communications and intellectual property is an important component of any well functioning company. Management and ownership must be able to communicate freely and frankly to make the tough decisions that are often required in the corporate world. Companies must protect their sensitive internal data from being exposed to competitors or those who may wish to do the company harm. When the confidentiality of internal information becomes breached, a pervasive distrust often emerges within an organization. If management wants to maintain control of the company, information leaks must be detected, identified and stopped quickly.
If not handled properly, information leaks can lead to damaged reputation, mistrust within an organization, compromised intellectual property, illegal insider trading and a myriad of other problems.
UHY Advisors has the expertise to locate and identify the persons responsible for the leak, determine the extent of the problem and document the leak and set up controls to prevent future leaks from occurring. We are acutely aware of the sensitive nature of these types of investigations and conduct our investigations accordingly.
Wage and Fraud
UHY Advisors’ Global Business Intelligence and Investigations team has conducted extensive investigations into wage and hour fraud and workforce misrepresentation. Our reviews have focused on detecting and preventing the use of various methodologies for perpetrating these types of employee