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How to Conduct an Internal Ethics Investigation Involving an Executive-Level Manager

Important: This article should be read together with How to Conduct an Internal Ethics Investigation

Author: John Sarno, Employer's Association of New Jersey

To reduce the possibility of potentially harmful unethical practices in the workplace, many organizations have implemented ethics programs, which include a process to investigate unethical practices.

Such an investigation ensures compliance with the program and provides a defense for the organization against governmental or private litigation.

The investigation becomes much more complex and perilous when the subject of the investigation is an executive-level manager because a complaint involving an executive can have serious repercussions for the firm. With the authority the executive possesses comes the increasing threat of harm to the organization, thus increasing exposure to liability.

The unethical or illegal acts of an executive can also cause irreparable harm to the firm's reputation. Because of the seriousness nature of the situation, it is almost always advisable to consult with legal counsel before, during and after the investigation.