Handling Harassment Claims the Right Way

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Harassment is one issue that can make employers very uncomfortable.  Nonetheless, it’s important to take every complaint seriously, rather than minimizing an employee’s concerns, or overreacting to an accusation.

harassment in the office
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Have a policy in place.

How can you handle harassment claims the right way?  You must have a policy in place and inform all employees what the policy is.  Make sure they understand the policy, as well as the importance of adhering to it.

Address reporting procedures.

Next, make sure employees know how to report a complaint, if and when the need arises.  For instance, workers need to know that they don’t have to follow the normal chain of command to report sexual harassment or other concerns.

Plan a formal investigation.

First, interview the employee(s) who filed the complaint.  Listen objectively, take notes, and document everything that is shared.  Reassure employees that they’re safe from retaliation.  Interview any potential witnesses, and be sure to use open-ended questions.  Last, interview the accused harasser(s).  If necessary, consult with an attorney, then make a final decision and follow up with the accused and the accuser.

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Provide training and resources.

One step you can take toward reducing the chance of a harassment complaint at your workplace is to provide harassment awareness training for your team.  Ensuring that employees understand what is – and what is not – appropriate and acceptable for the workplace can go a long way toward eliminating this potentially uncomfortable dilemma.

Professional Employer Organizations like Staff One HR and Oasis Outsourcing not only provide training for supervisors and employees on harassment and other HR issues, but handle investigations for their clients, providing support for your team throughout the entire process.  Contact the author directly at anissa.wilson@staffone.com.