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When to Hire an Outside Investigation Firm

When an investigation is sensitive, complex or could put your company’s reputation in jeopardy, consider hiring external investigators.

Posted by Timothy Dimoff on February 23rd, 2021

Corporate human resources professionals and internal investigators are usually qualified to conduct most in-house business investigations. There are, however, certain circumstances when it is in the best interest of the company and of the investigation to hire an outside investigation firm.


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To conduct the most effective, fair investigation possible, select an investigator with a skill set suited to that particular investigation. This free cheat sheet includes considerations and tips to make the selection process easier.

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When You Need an Unbiased Expert


Hiring an outside investigation firm makes sense when there is a possibility that litigation may arise. In this case, an outside firm takes away any questions relating to the competency of the investigator. Additionally, it removes any perceptions of bias on the part of the investigator and any questions about the thoroughness of the investigation.


RELATED: Every Workplace Investigation Needs a Thorough Investigation Plan


When the Investigation is Complex


There are also other situations in which an outside investigator makes sense including:


Internal Conflicts

  • The allegations involve a member of the HR department or upper management.
  • There are allegations that may involve significant financial or legal exposure to the company.
  • There are questions as to the in-house team’s experience and qualifications.
  • There are questions that the in-house investigator may not be viewed as unbiased and objective.
  • The accusations have been made public. If the allegations have been reported in the press or are even widely known within the company, using an outside investigator preserves the integrity of the investigative process and ensures that the process is viewed as impartial and fair.
  • There have been complaints by more than one employee about the same problem. This could involve harassment or sexual misconduct complaints.


Sensitive Nature

  • The situation is highly confidential or sensitive.
  • The investigation involves sensitive issues such as sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, whistleblowing, theft/embezzlement, assault/battery or drug dealing.


Includes Regulatory or Legal Lapses


RELATED: Assembling an Investigation Team


Consider the Potential Risks to Your Company


When deciding on how to best handle a sensitive investigation using either an in-house or an outside investigator, the issue is one of risk management and what is best to avoid any litigation now or in the future. The possibility of future litigation and defense of the investigation and the company should be the deciding factor.


Timothy Dimoff
Timothy Dimoff

President, SACS Consulting & Investigative Services

Timothy A. Dimoff, CPP, president of SACS Consulting & Investigative Services, Inc., is a speaker, trainer and author and a leading authority in high-risk workplace and human resource security and crime issues.
He is a Certified Protection Professional; a certified legal expert in corporate security procedures and training; a member of the Ohio and International Narcotic Associations; the Ohio and National Societies for Human Resource Managers; and the American Society for Industrial Security. He holds a B.S. in Sociology, with an emphasis in criminology, from Dennison University.

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