Can Your Employer Do That? Prohibitions from Talking about Internal Company Investigations

Posted by: Chris

You are not sure what is going on behind the scenes at work, but you are pretty sure you want no part of it. You have noticed your coworkers being called in to your supervisor’s office for the last couple of weeks, and now, your boss has asked you to come in to see him in 10 short minutes. It is not time for annual reviews, so now you are feeling nervous.

You walk in to the room, and your supervisor hands you a form and asks you to fill it out and sign the bottom. The form says you are not allowed to talk about what you are asked during the meeting. That makes you even more nervous, but your supervisor is staring at you, and you can’t lose your job!

After you leave, you want to talk to some of your friends at work about what happened, but since you signed that form, you do not think you can. Weird stuff has been happening ever since that day a few weeks back when you heard the yelling and you were asked to pick up more shifts when some coworkers suddenly stopped coming to work.

It happens more often than we might realize. There’s an investigation over someone’s behavior at work. Management demands information from employees but does not want the employees to talk to each other about what is happening. From management's perspective, this may seems like a good way to determine what occurred without people making up stories. However, many employers often cross the line legally when it comes to telling employees they cannot talk about a work investigation.

Employees have a right to discuss the terms and conditions of their employment with each other, and when management gives a blanket instruction to employees that they cannot discuss an employment investigation, this often impairs the employees' right to do so.

There are times that an investigation does need to stay private, when an employer actually has a legitimate interest in employees not discussing it. For this to apply, however, an employer must be clear and certain before directing employee to keep the conversations private. The reasoning needs to be clear, well-reasoned, and clearly explained to employees.

An employer’s investigation into activities in the workplace is not something that employers can keep secret without a clear explanation. If you feel that your rights to discuss an employer’s practices have been wrongly limited, finding yourself an attorney to discuss your concerns can provide you with a clear idea of what your options are.

If you need legal advice about your whether your rights have been compromised by your employer, call us at (918) 582-2500 or toll free at (800) 722-8880 for a free consultation.