Discrimination / Sexual Harassment

PII has a national reputation for conducting investigations of employment discrimination, sexual harassment, and retaliation. From allegations against elected officials and department heads to police officers and faculty at public colleges and universities, the firm has probed complaints of discrimination based on race, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, and other protected categories.

Retaliation allegations frequently expose public employers to litigation risk, even when the underlying complaints of discrimination are unfounded.  PII has extensive experience in this area, applying objectivity and thorough analysis to complaints that can be murky and sometimes involve long-standing personal conflicts.

Examples of PII investigations:

• The Social Security Administration (SSA) hired PII to conduct discrimination and harassment investigations at SSA offices in 15 states across the U.S.
• An employee in a city’s neighborhood services department was accused by a co-worker of inappropriate touching and sexual harassment. The investigation uncovered a workplace in which several employees were engaging in sexual misconduct at work.
• An employee of a social service agency, who was placed off work due to a mental illness, complained he was discriminated against based on disability. PII was retained to investigate his 32-page complaint, which listed more than 40 allegations against eight managers, including a department head.
• An engineer at a major public works agency complained about a decade long pattern of discrimination and harassment based on his age, race and gender, as a 55-year-old white male.  After filing the complaint, he alleged he had been retaliated against and retained an attorney.   PII conducted a six-month investigation to address his allegations, which proved to be without merit.

Case in Point

After a series of public scandals involving mishandled sexual harassment investigations, the City of Los Angeles retained PII to operate its Office of Discrimination Investigation.  During a three-year period, PII conducted more than 300 employment discrimination and sexual harassment investigations at every level, in almost every City department, including police and fire.  PII provided recommendations to the City Council on restructuring the way the City handled these matters. These recommendations led to the establishment of a new city agency.  The staff of this new agency was trained by PII.

Case in Point

A high-level, female deputy director at a public utility accused her politically connected director of sexual harassment.  PII was retained to investigate the allegation, and interviewed 29 employees who had worked with the accused.  PII’s investigator spoke with secretaries, supervisors, and professional staff, and found evidence that the manager had been engaging in sexually harassing conduct during much of his tenure.  Based on PII’s report, the agency terminated the manager and reached an early financial settlement with the woman who had filed the complaint, forestalling costly litigation.

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