Corporate Internal Investigations and Employees

by Ashley Adams

(January 2013) A company alerted to a potential legal violation will often conduct an internal investigation. If you as an employee are asked to participate, it is difficult to know how to protect your own interests without possibly losing your job.

First, it is important to understand that the company’s lawyers do not represent you and are primarily interested in protecting the company from liability. It is common for managers and other employees to become scapegoats for company-wide transgressions.

Statements an employee makes to the company’s attorney are most likely not protected by the attorney-client privilege. Most employees do not realize that the privilege belongs to the company and may be waived at a later date. As a result, any statements you make during an interview could land in the hands of prosecutors if the company later decides to cooperate with investigators.

In some cases, employees may be able to have a lawyer present during questioning. However, unlike in official criminal proceedings, the Sixth Amendment right to counsel does not generally apply to internal investigations conducted by private employers.

Given the risks, employees should consult with an experienced white collar defense attorney prior to participating in any internal investigation. Refusing to talk to investigators could cost you your job, but your testimony could also lead to criminal charges.

At Ashley D. Adams, PLC, we have a successful track record of defending clients from charges of white-collar crime, health care fraud, financial fraud, other criminal charges and in civil matters.

If you have further questions about this issue, please contact Ashley D. Adams, PLC via phone at 480.219.1366 or via the contact us page of this site. Ashley is a criminal defense attorney in Scottsdale and a former federal prosecutor.