When you receive complaints that an employee is experiencing sexual harassment from someone in your company, you have a legal, moral and ethical obligation to investigate the allegations.
After an employee reports this kind of discrimination, the actions you take are crucial to limit your potential liability and minimize damage to your business reputation.
Listen to the employee with respect
When you take your employees’ concerns seriously, they are more likely to agree to an internal resolution than pursue litigation. Treating staff members with understanding, consideration and respect is essential to maintaining good relationships. Thank employees for bringing problems to your attention.
Take swift and appropriate action
When you address the complaint immediately, it relays to all your employees that you do not tolerate misconduct in the workplace. Treat all reports seriously and investigate them immediately. While examining the facts, you may need to:
- Give the reporting employee time off
- Place the alleged offender on leave
- Alter work areas, assignments or hours as is necessary to prevent them from having to work together
Put a legal hold on related documentation
Protect any information relevant to the claim. A court of law can punish you for failing to preserve memos, emails or other pertinent documents, even if the destruction was unintentional.
Know the applicable laws
You must have comprehensive knowledge of the complex laws related to sexual harassment in the workplace, as it can result in significant liability for your company. You can face severe consequences, including punitive damages for handling concerns inappropriately.
Addressing workplace accusations requires an in-depth understanding of the legal rules and implications. Dealing with complaints correctly and compassionately helps you reduce the chances of potential litigation.