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On receiving notification of a complaint of sexual harassment, it is by now well-settled that companies must immediately undertake a prompt and thorough internal investigation. One of the first decisions facing a company is who will conduct the investigation.

Increasingly, companies have been turning to outside investigators and attorneys. One reason for doing so is to remove any potential for bias or prejudgment that may taint an investigation conducted by someone who is close to the situation. In retaining an attorney to conduct the investigation, the company also benefits from the attorney’s legal knowledge and experience. Not only can the attorney make credibility determinations, but he or she can counsel the company as to potential liability and, if the employee’s complaints are verified, the measures the employer must take to eliminate the conduct, including disciplining or terminating the harasser.

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