Administrative Leave is a common practice used by companies when they are investigating claims that are more severe or emotionally charged. The purpose of an Administrative Leave is to remove the accused party or parties from the workplace, ensuring the safety of the workforce and allowing for a thorough and untainted investigation to occur. The leave protects individuals who may have been victimized by the accused, i.e. a person who has claimed they have been harassed or intimidated. Removing the accused from the workplace also allows the accused to work without fear of retaliation or further harassment. It makes it easier for witnesses to be more forthcoming in their accounts of events that have taken place. Additionally, removal of the accused from the workplace protects the evidence or records from being tampered with or destroyed; especially in the instances of white-collar criminal activity such as embezzlement or insider trading.
While there are many reasons to support temporarily removing (with or without pay) the accused from the workplace during an investigation, the accused should never be subjected to a “sloppy” investigation process. Insufficient and ineffective communication with the employee who is being placed on leave can be emotionally devastating. It is important the investigation happen as quickly as possible and that the “water cooler” gossip is kept to a minimum. A delay in investigating the claim could lead to the spreading of false information and prolonged suspension of interaction with clients or accounts which can cause irreparable damage to a professional’s reputation and income.
If you have been placed on an administrative leave it is important to follow these tips:
- Ask for as much information as possible regarding the charges and the reasoning behind being placed on administrative leave.
- Clarify if the leave will be with or without pay and benefits.
- Inquire about who will be communicating the progress of the investigation to you and how often you will receive updates.
- Try to get a time frame as to how long the leave/investigation will last.
- If the charges against you appear to be severe or criminal, you should absolutely call an attorney before giving any sort of commentary to your employer.
- Ask to have an overview of the claim as well as the administrative leave expectations and policies put in writing and/or emailed to you for your records.
- After being informed of the claim and upcoming investigation, take a moment to write down what you recall. Make sure to include all details about the event, any witnesses of the current event or past related events that should be interviewed and any other important details related to the incident being investigated. It’s always good to include details as to where evidence or records might be located that would support your position. Share this information with your attorney.
- Let your employer come to you with questions or clarification requests during the investigation. While it is important not to impede the investigation, it is also vitally important to not volunteer information that could be potentially harmful, even if you think it is helping your situation. You should be given the opportunity to respond to any claims made against you. Your responses to all questions asked during the investigation should be put together in a thoughtful, meticulous way preferably under the guidance of your attorney.
- Last, and perhaps the most difficult to do is to listen to your attorney...I repeat…..listen to your attorney! Undoubtedly, the situation is an emotional one – your ability to care for yourself and your family hangs in the balance. What you are being accused of may be 100% untrue. It may be insulting. It may be hurtful. However, at the end of the day, there is one thing in this whole process that you can control – your response. Take a moment to let your instinctual reaction to defend yourself pass before firing off a damaging email or speaking without your attorney present. Your career may depend on your ability to exact self-control.
If you have been placed on administrative leave and have been accused of a workplace crime or misbehavior, call us at 505-848-8581. Don’t wait for a criminal charge to be filed or termination from your position to happen. We can help you through this difficult process. Contact us today.