Three Key Ways An Employer Handles Workplace Harassment
How an employer handles workplace harassment sets the tone for the work environment. Employers have the responsibility to immediately investigate any harassment complaint. Furthermore, employers should screen their employees before hiring. Not knowing of an employee’s history of assault could be cause for a lawsuit based on negligent hiring and negligent retention.
Harassment is uncomfortable in all stages, but it becomes illegal when discriminatory action is involved, based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age, genetic information, or disability. The law does not prohibit offhand comments or teasing. But, the law does protect against harassment that creates a hostile work environment or results in hiring, firing, promoting, or demotion.
We’ve covered how an employee sues for sexual harassment. Now, we are going to look at three key ways an employer handles workplace harassment: before, during, and after. But this isn’t just a list for the employer. This can also be a list for an employee who wants to know what his or her employer should be doing after the employee has made the workplace harassment complaint.
Prevent Workplace Harassment
Employers prevent harassment in the workplace in a few simple ways. Prevention is always worth the effort.
- Screen all potential managerial staff for past harassment misbehavior.
- Provide a written policy on harassment to all employees.
- Train managers and employees on preventing harassment.
- Create an internal investigation plan.
How An Employer Handles Workplace Harassment
When a report is made about workplace harassment, the employer must jump to action. Don’t ignore the complaint or set it aside to deal with at a more convenient time. Such tardiness can cause a problem if a lawsuit occurs.
- Stay neutral and calm.
- Be sure to offer a few options of who an employee can report to in a harassment situation.
- Treat each employee, whether victim, accused, or witness, with respect.
- Begin investigation within 24-48 hours of the report.
- Interview the victim, accused, and witnesses.
- Inform the victim to share any new information or incidents if more occur.
- Take detailed notes of all relevant information.
- Make a decision based on your information.
- Check for corroboration or contradiction in the accounts.
- Cooperate with government agencies.
- The victim may file a complaint with the EEOC.
- Consider hiring an experienced investigator.
- Keep documentation of the event in a separate place from the personnel files.
After Workplace Harassment Is Resolved
Nothing is ever easy when it comes to dealing with harassment in the workplace whether or not the charge was real or not. You, as the employer, will need to make a decision of how to handle the misdemeanor according to the workplace policy. And it’s possible that the victim will not think it’s enough and will file a lawsuit.
The important thing for you is to keep an open communication with your employees.
- Follow-up with the victim, accused, and witnesses.
- Outline how work interaction will carry on from this point.
- Overview the harassment policy with the entire company.
How an employer handles workplace harassment sends a powerful message to their employees about what behavior is appropriate or not. Be consistent in how you handle every harassment report according to the business policy.
If you’re an employee and your employer has not followed the above process or a similar procedure, you may want to contact legal counsel to look into your situation. It is the responsibility of your employer to investigate every instance of reported harassment. However, that doesn’t always happen. When an employer does not investigate, they are encouraging unlawful behavior.
If you find yourself in the stressful situation of workplace harassment and your employer has failed to investigate, contact an employment lawyer who will know how to navigate your situation and what your rights are under the law.