Are employers ever legally obligated to conduct an internal investigation?

Author: Michael C. Jacobson, XpertHR Legal Editor

Yes. When employers are notified of potential discrimination in the workplace, both federal and state anti-discrimination laws require employers to take action to address and correct the discrimination promptly. Further, health and safety laws like the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) require employers to address allegations of unsafe or unlawful practices in the workplace. Employers in the transportation industry face requirements to drug test drivers in compliance with the Drug-Free Workplace Act of 1988 and Department of Transportation Testing Regulations. Finally, employers in the financial industry are required to conduct background screening of certain employees, to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, and to conduct investigations when employees "blow the whistle" on illegal or wasteful practices that could affect the stock market, investor accounts or shareholders.