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Whistleblower complaint takes median 46 days to resolve: Analysis


The amount of time it takes firms to complete an investigation based on a whistleblower report and close the case continues to increase, concludes a study released Tuesday.

It took a median of 46 days to complete an investigation prompted by a whistleblower in 2015, up from 32 days in 2011, according to the study by Oswego Lake, Oregon-based ethics and compliance firm Navex Global.

The study, “2016 Ethics & Compliance Hotline Benchmark Report,” is based on an analysis of 2,311 Navex clients that received 867,551 individual whistleblower reports during 2015. The analysis includes only organizations that received 10 or more reports last year.

“The ongoing and significant rise in case closure times is cause for concern, as a festering workplace issue can drag down morale, productivity and organizational culture,” Carrie Penman, Navex’s chief compliance officer and senior vice president of advisory services, said in a statement.

“It can also lead to allegations being reported outside the organization to regulatory agencies directly. Boards and executive leaders should take notice that their compliance programs could lose credibility with employees if this delay is not addressed. Best practice case closure time is an average of 30 days,” said Ms. Penman.

Although nearly 45% of all charges filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2015 were related to retaliation, the rate of retaliation reports in the Navex Global analysis accounted for just shy of 1% of complaints filed over the past five years.

“The low number of retaliation-related reports captured in our data gives us cause to believe that employees are more likely to report retaliation issues externally than internally,” according to the survey.

Meanwhile, the report also found that the substantiation rate for retaliation claims in 2015 was 26%, down from 27% in 2014 but still above the 12% reported in 2013.

“This ‘new normal’ rate is a sign that organizations are moving in the right direction, taking a more focused approach to managing and investigating allegations of retaliation,” according to the analysis.

Experts say the EEOC’s proposed update of its “woefully outdated” guidance on workplace retaliation would put a greater burden on employers to disprove such allegations.

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