How Internal Investigations Often Protect the Accused

Katz, Marshall & Banks partner Debra Katz was quoted in a Los Angeles Times article about Warner Bros.’ handling of Chairman Kevin Tsujihara’s sexual misconduct.

While Tsujihara’s ouster came just twelve days after he publicly became the subject of an internal investigation by Warner Bros., it’s been revealed that WarnerMedia had been aware of complaints and investigated Tsujihara previously – apparently finding no reason to discipline or fire him for those prior transgressions.

To avoid liability for sexual harassment, companies are legally required to take action and try to correct and prevent sexual harassment in its workplaces. But as Ms. Katz notes, “an investigation is only as good as the company has mandated it.”

“If it’s a real investigation, there is no limitation,” explains Ms. Katz. “You look at specific allegations and you usually find others. A bad investigation is limited to a specific scope and time period, where you certainly don’t get at workplace environmental issues. If an investigator is given carte blanche to fully investigate then they can uncover the truth.”

Prior to the rise of the MeToo movement, these sorts of limited investigations were often considered sufficient to protect a company against legal liability and to avoid damaging its public reputation. Post-MeToo, corporations may no longer take the risk of keeping high-earners accused of workplace misconduct.

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