Labor and Employment > Workplace Investigations, Civil Rights Audits and DEI Counseling

Overview

Organizations and their governing bodies face increased scrutiny from a variety of internal and external stakeholders regarding how they react and respond to concerns about equity, culture, harassment and discrimination. The focus is even greater when senior leaders are implicated, or where there are claims of systemic or widespread discrimination or misconduct. Demands from regulators, investors and other stakeholders have also prompted companies to proactively review and address diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) through civil rights audits, trainings and other initiatives aimed at identifying and addressing barriers to the advancement of women and minorities.

Representative Matters

  • Investigating internal allegations of race discrimination by senior management within the corporate compliance department of a large retailer, including allegations of disparate treatment and systemic promotion discrimination. Based on Akin Gump’s fact-findings, supported by over 20 witness interviews, hiring and promotion data analyses, and review of electronically stored information, the client was able to respond to the allegations, take appropriate action and address the situation in a manner that avoided litigation.
  • Investigating internal allegations of gender discrimination made by white female employees against an African American executive, who alleged in response to the investigation that he was being targeted due to his race. Through carefully and strategically deciding the appropriate scope of the expanded investigation, Akin Gump was able conclude the investigation and convey its outcome to the complainants in a manner that reduced the likelihood of additional workplace disharmony and disruption.
  • Conducting an independent audit and investigation of policies and practices related to workplace culture, diversity and inclusion, including anti-harassment, antidiscrimination policies and complaint procedures, and vendor and supplier engagement on behalf of the special committee of the board of a publicly traded company.
  • Investigating an anonymous letter to the board of directors alleging a pattern of failing to advance people of color. Investigation involved extensive data analyses, with the assistance of a retained labor economist and considering both in-line and competitive promotions, to determine whether statistical evidence supported the systemic allegations in the complaint. Akin Gump reported its findings to the board in a detailed report that explained the statistics based on how courts analyze claims of systemic discrimination.
  • Conducting an internal investigation on behalf of a media company into allegations that a former employee sexually assaulted numerous women over many years. The matter involved coordination with law enforcement, litigation counsel and insurance counsel.