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How employers should address harassment complaints

On Behalf of | Dec 4, 2023 | Employment Law

The cases of harassment plaguing companies seem never-ending. Mishandling these sensitive matters can have a detrimental impact on an employer, hindering their ability to attract and retain talent while fostering a toxic work culture. More importantly, employers risk liability if they fail to take harassment claims seriously.

To safeguard the business and workers, employers may consider doing the following:

Act with urgency

As soon as a manager or HR department receives a complaint, it is crucial to act promptly. Avoiding delays can help assure employees that the company listens and is committed to cultivating a supportive workplace.

Carefully investigate the matter

With careers at stake, collecting all relevant information about the alleged incident is essential. This may involve interviewing the parties involved as well as potential witnesses. It is essential to document everything and establish a clear picture of events.

In conducting investigations, companies should uphold confidentiality and proactively shield the reporter from retaliation. Employees who step forward often face bullying or isolation at work. They endure threats, receive unfair performance reviews or get assigned to different positions.

However, the laws are firm against punishing employees for exercising their right to report misconduct. Employers must do what they can to protect these individuals from reprisal.

Enact appropriate measures

After concluding the investigation, employers should carefully review their findings before deciding on an appropriate action. If the investigation reveals harassment occurred, the company must take steps to safeguard the victim and follow its harassment policy.

It may be necessary to separate the parties involved or terminate the harasser. However, the employer must ensure that any measures they take are in accordance with company policy and the law. Otherwise, they risk facing a discrimination claim.

Consider outside counsel

Responding swiftly and professionally to harassment claims is vital to prevent costly legal battles and reputational damage. Given the risks at stake, engaging an employment law attorney may be wise. Their knowledge can guide employers in tackling these situations with sensitivity while abiding by the law.