HR, Employment Dispute Investigations
London’s Best Source During HR & Employment Disputes
Locate digital evidence from employees during a dispute.
As computers and computer data become the central conduit for information flow both within an organisation and outside, it follows that this data will contain key traces or artefacts which pinpoint statements made and actions carried out that will prove pivotal in any dispute between employees or between employees and the company.
Whilst most companies have experienced and well trained IT departments, these are typically woefully unprepared for dealing with incidents that may eventually end up at a tribunal – which follow Criminal Procedure Rules in dealing with digital employment dispute evidence. Additionally, the at-arms-length independence that a 3rd party such as First Response brings to such investigations will immediately counter any claims by disaffected employees of constructive dismissal. The hoops that companies must jump through in dealing with HR disputes are myriad and require careful management to ensure successful outcomes and avoidance of damaging reputational loss.
An employee at an investment bank in the City of London brought a claim of sexual harassment to her HR department and immediately took leave on grounds of stress. She provided extracts from a chat log asevidence of the harassment. First Response were instructed to examine the computers of the victim and the subject, who was alleged to have sexually harassed her via an internal chat application, used by employees. The subject was also placed on leave pending the result of the investigation.
Our analysis recovered deleted emails from the victims machine to a friend outside the company detailing how she would ensure a ‘big payout prior to leaving‘. Deleted chat logs from the victims computer tallied with those present as live (not deleted) files on the subjects machine. Essentially, the log files showed that the victim had posed various questions to the subject along the lines of ‘if you were going to have sex chat with someone, what would you say?’.
These chats quickly became very explicit based on the victims requests to make them so. Given the full context of the conversations, and the supporting email evidence, the ‘victim’ was immediately dismissed and the subject of the investigation exonerated and re-instated. The victim admitted the scam and left quietly.
This case had all the propensity to become a major embarrassment for all concerned, resulting in a lengthy tribunal action and severe reputational loss for both the company and the innocent accused.
Prompt and appropriate instruction of First Response as a qualified independent third party allowed us to remove the heat and emotion from the situation and focus on the forensic artefacts present.