My former employer has accused me of theft. The criminal investigator who wants to talk to me does business with the company and my former employer usually gives him a deal. Would this be a conflict of interest? Should the investigator even be involved given the prior relationship?
Employment / Labor Attorney
Employees do have an obligation to cooperate with an employer in an investigation; indeed, employers often would be unable to conduct an effective investigation or elicit relevant information without employee cooperation.
The question is whether you have a legal basis to challenge the qualifications of the investigator. You can check with an employment lawyer in VT to see if there is a state law that sets qualifications for workplace investigations.
You can also ask for the interview to be tape-recorded and that you be given a copy of the recording. (The employer does not have to agree).
Investigations conducted by biased investigators may compromise an employer’s defense even more than no investigation at all. If you can prove that the investigator is biased, this conveys a loud and clear message: the investigation was orchestrated by the employer to justify a nasty, unlawful, or "BS" reason to get rid of you,
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Criminal Defense Attorney
I think this initially belongs in the civil law arena.
I would not worry about a potential conflict of interest, which there may be, and be more concerned about potentially speaking to any investigator.
You have absolutely no obligation to speak with the investigator and I suggest that you remain silent and exercise your right to counsel if necessary.
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Mr. Lundeen is licensed to practice law in Florida and Vermont. The response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. The response is in the form of legal education and is intended to provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that, if known, could significantly change the reply and make it unsuitable. Mr. Lundeen strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in your state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
This ans. does not create an attorney/client relationship.