A recent court decision in Canada provided an interesting case study for whistleblower issues and post-accident investigations within businesses and organizations.
Workplace accidents may result in work stop orders, prosecution, civil suits, workers’ compensation claims and administrative penalties. Because of this, employers have been increasingly likely to carry out “privileged” investigations to obtain legal advice and protect certain details from arising during litigation. The question is: what are the limits of privilege during these internal investigations?
The Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench determined employers are allowed to claim legal privilege over materials and information related to internal accident investigations, a move that would protect this information from exposure to health and safety officers in each province. This decision could have a significant impact on employers who must deal with investigations after serious accidents. In short, they now have greater protections when it comes to any civil claims related to these accidents.
Employers responding to serious workplace accidents and the ensuing investigations may take action to ensure internal investigations are privileged. And while this recent case took place in Canada, it’s a tactic many U.S. companies and their legal counsel use, as well. This could make it difficult for plaintiffs to find success when taking legal action after an accident, especially if they believe the incident occurred because of safety violations or illegal practices.
For more tips on how to handle post-accident internal investigations in the workplace, meet with a skilled Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.