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Workplace Investigations

Employment Law

Are you dealing with a workplace investigation and not sure where to begin? Here is a good starting place.

Specific Issues

On-Demand Resources

View on-demand information about specific issues related to workplace investigations in Australia.

If you are facing an investigation, get legal advice from Anderson Legal with a fixed-price initial consultation.

This firm safeguards what matters most and acts purposefully in times of crisis. It acts for employers and employees.

Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Royal Commissions, Fair Work Commission and multiple other courts and tribunals, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.

As a boutique law firm, Anderson Legal is dedicated to providing expert advice and representation in dealing with workplace issues. Although based in Brisbane, this firm advises clients nationally.

Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021)

Andrew Anderson - Lawyer

Workplace Investigations

If you have searched “workplace investigations lawyer” or “workplace investigations”, you will see there is are many options. Why choose Anderson Legal?

If you seek an experienced lawyer to help you when dealing with a workplace investigation, Andrew Anderson has a proven track record of successfully guiding his clients through challenging, complex and serious problems.

The areas of law Anderson Legal handles are narrow yet deep. It ensures this firm can handle all cases to the highest standards, no matter the complexity.

Personalised Solutions

Anderson Legal takes the time to understand the circumstances and priorities of each of its clients and tailors solutions accordingly.

Many people attach their identity to their employment or profession and workplace investigations can significantly impact reputations and livelihoods.

Resolving workplace issues is not always straightforward, as other issues often affect decisions – reputational risks, financial realities, and opportunity costs.

This firm offers tailored strategies to resolve workplace concerns.

Workplace Bullying Lawyer - Anderson Legal

Workplace Investigations

Disciplinary Processes Australia
  • What is a workplace investigation?
  • Types of workplace investigations
  • Steps in workplace investigations
  • Contesting unfair investigations
  • What rights exist for employees?

What is a workplace investigation?

The essential function of a workplace investigation is to find the truth based on a fair examination of the available evidence.

There are many reasons why an employer may seek a workplace investigation to be conducted:

  • Workplace investigations are often used as part of a disciplinary process
  • Employers may have a concern about an issue in the workplace
  • Legal obligations may exist for an investigation to be conducted
  • Failure to investigate an issue may pose legal and reputational risks

If you are the subject of a workplace investigation looking into allegations you believe or know to be false, wrong or vexatious, the only purpose you have is to clear your name. An unfair workplace investigation wrongly undermines your ability to answer the accusations. Instead of enforcing workplace standards, complying with legal obligations and managing workplace risks, an unfair workplace investigation undermines all of these things.

Types of workplace investigations

For any employer contemplating commencing a workplace investigation into an allegation or issue that has arisen, it is critical to understand the options available. The different types of workplace investigations available need to be considered to determine what will be appropriate in the circumstances. There are essentially four different types of workplace investigations that employers should contemplate (outlined below):

The type of workplace investigation may be informed by the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees. Types of workplace investigations include:

  • Preliminary investigations
  • Internal investigations
  • Guided investigations
  • External investigations

In order to decide which type of investigation is appropriate, it is necessary to ask a few questions:

  • Is an investigation necessary?
  • What is the nature of the issue?
  • Who should investigate the issue?

A workplace investigation must balance several considerations. There must be procedural fairness afforded to both complainants and respondents. The potential damage to reputations and careers from allegations in the workplace can be significant. Whether disputed or not, allegations can cause distress and panic in the workplace. It is why anyone dealing with a workplace investigation should ensure they understand their full rights and responsibilities.

Steps in workplace investigations

Workplace investigations vary greatly. However, it is possible to identify the general stages or steps undertaken during a typical workplace investigation. While several identifiable steps in workplace investigations may occur, the complexity and effort required for an inquiry will differ from case to case.

The failure to properly investigate grievances carries its own risks, just as unfair workplace investigations do. Businesses and business operators may face legal action for the harm or damage caused through inadequate or unfair workplace investigations.

While there are many possible formulations of the steps for a procedurally fair workplace investigation, how workplace investigations are conducted may be set out in six steps:

  1. Deciding if an investigation is needed
  2. Planning the investigation
  3. Gathering evidence
  4. Allowing an opportunity to respond
  5. Considering the evidence
  6. Delivering findings and recommendations

While an employer may wish to act immediately in a situation involving an allegation or claim, it is essential to ensure proper processes are followed to minimise the risks involved for all concerned.

Contesting unfair investigations

There are several actions an employee may take to challenge unfair investigations and processes. This includes:

  • Internal appeals against the process, as may be provided for in a modern award, enterprise agreement, employment contract, or the policies and procedures of a workplace;
  • Filing an injunction to stop the workplace investigation;
  • Filing a ‘stop-bullying’ claim in the Fair Work Commission;
  • Filing an unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission;
  • Filing a general protections claim in the Fair Work Commission;
  • Filing a discrimination claim in anti-discrimination commission or tribunal, such as the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) or Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC); or,
  • Filing a breach of contract claim in a court.

Disputed workplace investigations can create legal, financial and reputational risks to businesses and organisations. It is the reason why business operators, executives and managers tasked with overseeing an investigation must be mindful of the risks involved and the rights of employees.

What rights exist for employees?

Disciplinary processes, of which workplace investigations can form a significant part, are materially influenced by industrial awards, enterprise agreements, employment contracts, as well as workplace policies and procedures. However, a ‘fair’ workplace investigation where adverse findings may ultimately be made against an employee typically should involve consideration of the following issues:

  • procedural fairness
  • reasonable accommodations
  • employee support
  • health and safety rights
  • self-incrimination privilege
  • confidentiality considerations

People may ask, what does an unfair process look like? Common concerns include:

  • Bias or perceived bias from the investigator / decision-maker;
  • Conflicts of interest between participants and the investigator / decision-maker;
  • Failure to follow relevant policies, procedures and industrial instruments;
  • Vague, unclear and unparticularised allegations;
  • Changes to the allegations or investigation without explanation;
  • Lack of transparency regarding the evidence gathered;
  • Failure to disclose the workplace investigation report;
  • Failure to give adequate notice before responses are required;
  • Directions to not communicate with potential witnesses;
  • Denial of access to a support person;
  • Delays in progressing or finalising the investigation; and,
  • Omission to investigate issues raised by a respondent.

If you are facing a workplace investigation or disciplinary process and seek to obtain legal advice, contact Anderson Legal for a fixed-price initial consultation to get personalised advice about your situation.

Specific Issues: Workplace Investigations

Bullying Investigations

Bullying Investigations

Bullying investigations can involve complex decisions around whether particular conduct is ‘bullying’ or ‘reasonable management action’.
Given the impact such allegations have on reputations, workplace bullying investigations are often contested and subject to challenge. Understanding the complexity of such investigations is critical.
Discrimination Investigations

Discrimination Investigations

There are numerous forms of discrimination and anti-discrimination laws, leading to many possible outcomes from such investigations.
Misconduct Investigations

Misconduct Investigations

Misconduct investigations can involve many types of allegations, including breaching codes of conduct, failing to manage conflicts of interest, misusing property, and misconduct outside of work.
It is common for misconduct investigations to involve contested allegations, requiring the completion of a thorough investigation.
Sexual Harassment Investigations

Sexual Harassment Investigations

A business can be vicariously liable for sexual harassment for failing to take appropriate steps to prevent it.
Work Health and Safety Investigations

Work Health & Safety Investigations

Investigations into whether an employee has breached work health and safety rules or procedures can be critical for a business, as employers and officers must ensure the safety of workers in a workplace.
Employers face real risks if they fail to investigate alleged work health and safety breaches properly.
Unfair Workplace Investigations

Unfair Workplace Investigations

While fair workplace investigations may help to enforce workplace standards, comply with legal obligations, and minimise legal risks, unfair workplace investigations can do the opposite.
Employers may face legal action for the harm or damage caused through inadequate or unfair workplace investigations.
Free Consultation

Anderson Legal offers a fixed-priced initial consultation to businesses, executives, and employees concerning workplace investigations.

Who this firm assists

Anderson Legal has a focus on resolving workplace problems. It provides advice and legal services to:

  • small business operators
  • executives in medium to large enterprises
  • employees in medium to large enterprises
  • public service employees

The potential impact of workplace investigations on reputations, relationships, and livelihoods makes it critical to have an employment lawyer who is equal to the task. If you need an employment lawyer, there are many reasons why Anderson Legal should be your preferred choice:

  • Andrew Anderson, Legal Director, is an experienced lawyer who has been independently described by the Courier Mail as “one of the best legal minds” and a “leading corporate and white-collar crime lawyer” (16 December 2021).
  • Having successfully represented litigants in the High Court of Australia, Royal Commissions, Fair Work Commission, and multiple other courts and tribunals, Andrew Anderson has a demonstrated record of success in complex and difficult cases.
  • Prior to operating a law firm, Andrew Anderson worked as a Principal Crown Prosecutor in Queensland and barrister in practice at 8 Petrie Terrace Chambers. His depth of courtroom experience ranges from straightforward claims right through to complex trials and appeals.
  • Anderson Legal is a law firm that is dedicated to the best ideals of the legal profession. Seeking to exceed client expectations and working for just outcomes is an everyday pursuit.

Read below how this firm can assist you, what it costs to get advice, and when to contact this firm.

How this firm can assist

With respect to workplace investigations, this firm assists its clients in navigating all kinds of issues, including:

  • advising on the legal and regulatory obligations of an employer to investigate
  • assisting with workplace investigations related to allegations and complaints
  • detailing the dispute resolution processes for unfair workplace investigations
  • negotiating resolutions with respect to contested workplace investigations
  • outlining the potential risks faced by a person facing investigation, such as:
    • disciplinary possibilities
    • criminal law referrals
    • professional conduct referrals
    • anti-corruption agency referrals
    • civil litigation claims
  • representing clients litigating improper investigations and unfair outcomes

Note: Anderson Legal does not provide advice or representation for compensation claims under personal injury or workers’ compensation laws.

What it costs to get advice

Fixed price initial consultation

Fixed-Price Consultation
One-Hour Consultation
No-Obligation Consultation

A fixed-price initial consultation is $495 incl. GST for up to one hour, which may be tax deductible (consult your tax advisor).

If you are dealing with a workplace investigation, book an appointment for an initial consultation with Anderson Legal. It is designed to deliver clear and timely advice that allows you to understand the relevant legal issues and make informed choices about the action that may be taken.

The time is devoted to ensuring an understanding of the particular issues to allow advice to be given based on the information you provide, which may include:

  • The legal framework for workplace investigations:
    • Employer rights and responsibilities
    • Employee rights and responsibilities
    • Specific laws applying to the workplace
    • Specific procedures adopted by the workplace
  • Outline of possible disciplinary outcomes
  • Workplace investigation response options:
    • Options to resolve complaints and grievances
    • Responding to workplace investigations
    • Preparing for investigator interviews
    • Contesting allegations and findings
    • Possible referrals to external bodies
    • End of contract negotiations
  • Specific issues with workplace investigations
    • Dealing with workplace investigators
    • Unfair workplace investigations
    • Victimisation and reprisal action
    • Public servants facing investigation
    • Executives facing investigation

An initial consultation with Anderson Legal is obligation-free, meaning there is no expectation or commitment to further legal work or costs. If you want to engage this firm to provide you with further advice or legal representation, estimates of costs will be provided as far as possible.

Initial consultations are by appointment only, with in-person, video, and phone options possible.

Representation for workplace investigations

Anderson Legal is transparent about how it charges legal fees.

This firm generally charges on a capped-fee, fixed-fee, or time-costed basis. How you are charged is something that may be negotiated and your preferences are taken into consideration.

Please note that Anderson Legal does not undertake legal work on a ‘no-win, no-fee’ basis.

In representing businesses, executives, and employees with workplace investigations, Anderson Legal puts in place a formal costs agreement with all clients. This includes a disclosure statement outlining important rights, as well as quotes or estimates for applicable legal fees.

When to contact this firm

Employment law issues can have strict timeframes, so it is prudent to seek legal advice as soon as possible for employment law concerns.

Workplace investigations can involve many legal complexities, which can have profound consequences for reputations, relationships, and livelihoods. It is the reason why it can be critical for business operators, executives and, employees to get urgent legal advice when dealing with such issues.

If you want legal advice, you should call Anderson Legal to set up an appointment for a fixed-price initial consultation: