Employee investigations—in some circuits, you can rely on what you know

Circuit decisions offer a reminder about the importance of conducting an investigation before disciplining or terminating employees

Arnstein & Lehr Chicago Partner Mark Spognardi and Milwaukee Associate Jesse Dill recently published “Employee investigations—in some circuits, you can rely on what you know.” In their article, they discuss how a recent decision by the 8th Circuit Court, Pulczinski v. Trinity Structural Towers, Inc., offers a reminder about the importance of conducting an investigation before disciplining or terminating employees.

Mr. Spognardi and Mr. Dill state that “… the 8th Circuit affirmed its commitment to the ‘honest belief rule,’ which allows an employer to rely on its findings following an investigation to make an adverse employment decision against an employee.” They further explain that, based on the 8th Circuit’s decision, an employee may present an argument, such as in the Pulczinski case, that the employer did not fully understand the circumstances of the employee’s situation. However, just because an employee makes that assertion, it is not necessarily accurate that the employer, when taking the disciplinary action, violated the law.

Thus, it is imperative that an employer conducts a proper investigation to protect from litigation.

The article appeared in the October 29 issue of Inside Counsel. To read it in full and learn further about how the 8th Circuit Court’s decision affects employers, please click here.

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