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What Affect Does the Yates Memo Have on Internal Investigations?

In September 2015, Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates released a memo that served as a guidance to U.S. Department of Justice attorneys related to the emphasis they should place on individuals’ accountability when it comes to corporate investigations.

In the memo, Yates directs U.S. attorneys to place equal or greater focus on the individual as compared to the corporation itself, while also more closely tying a company’s cooperation credit to the quality of information it offers the DOJ in regards to an individual’s alleged wrongdoing.

A potential change in process

Much has been written and said about these aspects of the Yates Memo, but what has not yet been fully explored is the impact it could have on internal investigations — especially on the relationships between employers and their employees. Many legal experts see the memo as guiding the DOJ to rely more heavily on companies’ self-investigations, rather than the traditional process involving subpoenas, wire taps, surveillance and whistleblower testimony.

The fact that companies are now incentivized to report employee misconduct directly to the DOJ, rather than handling matters internally, could further deteriorate the cooperative relationships between employees and employers. This is paired with the fact that, over the past several years, whistleblowers within businesses and organizations have been encouraged to report wrongdoing directly to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

This all results in an environment where both whistleblowers and corporate leaders feel the need to go outside of their organizations when potential wrongdoing has taken place. Some worry — perhaps rightfully so — that this situation could harm organizations’ internal cultures with time.

If you would like to learn more about the Yates Memo and how you can best protect your company, consult an experienced Dallas attorney at Whistleblower Law for Managers.


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