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Post-Investigation Consulting and Conflict Resolution

1.  Post-Investigation Consulting Services

In the aftermath of workplace investigations of harassment, retaliation and other misconduct, effective interventions are the key to remediating problems, preventing future retaliation, and restoring trust and resilience in the workplace.  Superficial responses or window dressing can increase the likelihood of further internal disruption, decreased productivity and reputational damage for the work unit and organization.  By taking a deliberate and thoughtful approach to assessing the aftermath and formulating an action plan, the organization optimizes collaboration between front-line managers, Human Resources and Legal, the impacted employees move beyond the trauma towards increased employee engagement/retention/productivity, and future retaliation risks are minimized.

Methodology Overview

  • Understand legal obligations (investigate, take remedial action) and legal risks (retaliation, additional claims if ineffective remedial action)
  • Maximize information gathered during investigation (e.g., morale, level of work team functioning, management effectiveness, impediments to productivity)
  • Conduct “Aftermath Assessment” using existing information and data (e.g., level of retaliation risk, turnover, organizational culture, prior complaints and remedial actions)
  • Formulate remedial action for immediate situation and “Aftermath Action Plan”
    • Identify stakeholders and plan for interdisciplinary collaboration (e.g., define clear roles to ensure all are working towards a common purpose, buy-in by unions, senior management)
    • Determine ROI regarding plans for change management to achieve successful outcomes and gain leadership support
  • Conduct Aftermath Intervention Strategies (e.g., workplace mediation, team building, leadership development using tools such as Emotional Intelligence, sensitivity training)

For Post-Investigation Consulting Services, The Law Offices of Mary L. Topliff partners with Human Resources and Organizational Development Consultant Marianne Jones, MSHROD, who has extensive experience working with senior management teams to create and execute human capital strategies and initiatives integral to achieving critical business results. She has served most recently as HR director in a Fortune 100 financial services organization and previously worked as a human resources executive in a variety of industries, including retail, insurance and not-for-profit.  Since 2010, Ms. Jones has been consulting on senior-level succession planning processes, new manager integration, team effectiveness and individual leadership coaching.

2.  Conflict Resolution:  Workplace Mediation and Arbitration

Mediation can refer to different types of dispute resolution methodologies.  In the legal field, mediation largely refers to a settlement conference in which both parties, often represented by counsel, resolve a pending lawsuit.  Usually, the parties spend most of the time in separate rooms and the negotiations primarily involve how much money one side will pay to the other.

Workplace Mediation, as used here, refers to a consultative style mediation, championed by Gary Friedman and the Center on Mediation in Law.  This methodology involves the parties primarily addressing each other to reach resolution, facilitated by the mediator.  This style of mediation is particularly useful in workplace situations in which the “parties” are employees and the organization’s goal is to retain them while improving their cooperation and productivity.

Ms. Topliff has mediated disputes for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.  Her breadth of employment law knowledge and facilitative skills make her an effective mediator, whether in the settlement conference-style or workplace mediation methods.

Applying her breadth of employment law knowledge, Ms. Topliff has served as an arbitrator in numerous attorney fee disputes involving employment cases for the Bar Association of San Francisco.