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Checklist: Tips to Avoid Internal Investigation Errors

The following are some tips to avoid the most common errors in conducting an internal investigation and preparing the subsequent investigation report:

  1. Provide a system for employees, athletes and other parties to report allegations.
  2. Select an investigator who is trained, experienced and objective (e.g., no bias) to handle the subject matter of the inquiry.
  3. Follow the organization’s written internal investigation policy and procedure.
  4. Conduct a prompt investigation.
  5. Ensure the integrity of the investigation by: (a) securing relevant evidence; (b) collecting evidence using legal and industry-approved protocols; and (c) analyzing evidence through sound procedures or trained experts.
  6. Conduct interviews by professionals trained in effective investigative interviewing techniques and documented by an accurate method (e.g., digital recorder, court reporter, detailed handwritten notes).
  7. Follow the applicable collective bargaining agreement.
  8. Recognize and address all issues impacting employees’ employment status and athletes’ eligibility issues during the internal investigation and in the investigation report.
  9. Provide all interview subjects a notice of their obligations under organizational policy and procedures (e.g., obligation to provide truthful information) prior to an investigation interview.
  10. Submit all relevant information, including pertinent documents, data and evidence that corroborates or refutes the alleged rules-violation, in the investigation report.
  11. State the specific rule, policy or law that was violated in the investigation report.
  12. Develop evidence to demonstrate the existence of mitigating factors and to address the occurrence of aggravating factors.
  13. Identify who reported the allegation in the investigation report.
  14. Describe the self-corrective measures and self-imposed penalties that relate to the reported violations in the investigation report.
  15. Document (through a report or memorandum) if the internal investigation determines no violation occurred.

 

For assistance with conducting internal investigations, contact attorneys Michael L. Buckner (mbuckner@bucknersportslaw.com; +1-954-941-1844 ext. 1) or Lori A. Williams (lwilliams@bucknersportslaw.com; +1-954-941-1844 ext. 7).