Processes to Have in Place if a Sexual Harassment Accusation is Made
Sexual harassment in the workplace is something that no employee should ever have to face. Unfortunately, while true sexual harassment should be prevented and addressed, false accusations can and have been made. The steps you take immediately following these accusations can have a direct impact on finding the truth and possibly protecting your business from a sexual harassment lawsuit. Many businesses do not have a process in place for sexual harassment allegations, which can slow the process down. Here are a few of the processes your business should consider implementing for sexual harassment accusations.
Responding to Accusations
As an employer, it is important that you let your employees know that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. You should encourage employees to report harassment and let them know where and how to report harassment. They should be aware that all complaints will remain confidential to the extent that is possible and that all reports will be taken seriously.
Once an employee makes an accusation or files a complaint, as an employer, it is important that the complaint is investigated thoroughly. Talk to witnesses, obtain formal statements from both parties, and investigate the matter promptly to ensure no further harassment takes place.
Human Resource's Responsibility
It is strongly recommended that employees have at least one contact person who is not in their immediate chain of command to report sexual harassment claims to. If an employee is being harassed, they may not feel comfortable telling another supervisor who works directly with the supervisor or employee harassing them. This is where human resources can be beneficial. These employees can be the point of contact for employees to make accusations and to fill out formal complaints. Since they may not be directly in charge of the employees or supervisors, they can complete an impartial complaint resolution process.
Complaint Resolution Processes
The last process you should have in place is a complaint resolution process. This involves determining how complaints will be handled. Typically, an impartial party, such as someone in human resources, should conduct all the interviews and take all statements. They can then review the evidence and go over it with the business owner or another higher up. Based on the evidence, discipline may be needed. Always lay out the disciplinary steps that are in place ahead of time when dealing with sexual harassment claims and allegations. In some cases, counseling, coaching, or simply separating the employees may be appropriate, while termination of the harasser may be necessary in other cases.
Are your business’ processes set up correctly for sexual harassment accusations? If not, let Dawson & Associates LLC help. We can help you put together a plan that can help protect your business should sexual harassment accusations be made. Fill out our consultation form today to get started.