Extract from CCBJ’s interview with QDiscovery’s Yaniv Schiff and Curtis Collette, “Departing Employees: When Do Investigations Become Necessary?”
CCBJ: Tell us about the types of situations with departing employees that warrant investigations. Do you find this is more typical in certain industries, sectors or divisions of certain companies?
Yaniv Schiff: We see investigations across the board. Every industry, every company has information that’s valuable to them. Intellectual property and trade secrets, of course, or it might be the price list or a client list or some other internal documentation that makes their company unique. If somebody made off with that and if it’s valuable enough, it might warrant an investigation.
There are some common situations that warrant investigations. We often get involved when an employee goes to work for a direct competitor. Sometimes that’s evident because the competitor is suddenly winning bids they wouldn’t typically win. Or perhaps a competitor releases a new product more quickly than expected. These are both common scenarios where our forensics group gets involved and performs an investigation.
Curtis Collette: When a group of employees, particularly a team, leaves at or near the same time, an investigation may be warranted. Unhappy employees, particularly those who have been very vocal about their unhappiness, can be another investigative trigger, primarily when the employee is not leaving voluntarily. And the most obvious trigger is employees who mention or threaten litigation.
Beyond these situations, many companies have standard investigation policies for particular roles within their company. The roles that most often warrant investigations include sales, executive-level employees, product development and other roles that have access to data the company considers essential.