The age of #MeToo has shed light on just how important it is for businesses and organizations to plan out robust harassment reporting and investigation policies and to be proactive in preventing workplace harassment.
Below are a few tips for companies to consider as they develop and implement their harassment policies:
- Make it easy to report: It should be easy for anyone involved with the company, regardless of their role, location or other variable, to report harassment when it occurs. The policy should also provide managers with a clear outline for how they will act on the complaint.
- Act quickly: HR contacts should follow up on reports as soon as they receive them. The faster the follow-up, the better the results and the less likely it is employees will lose trust in your company. All supervisors and managers must be trained to contact HR as soon as possible following a harassment report, and to immediately take steps to investigate the incident. This also allows for easier preservation of evidence, and allows witnesses to more accurately recall what occurred.
- Protect privacy: It is very common for people who report incidents of workplace harassment to want to remain anonymous, as they are fearful that they will be retaliated against by the harasser. While it is not always possible to completely protect the employee’s identity, employers should take reasonable steps to protect their privacy as much as possible and prevent retaliation from occurring.
- Document thoroughly: Investigators should be extremely thorough in their documentation of the investigation, taking notes about all actions they take and questions they ask, as well as the responses they get to those questions. Other documentation that is important to preserve include emails, text messages, memos and any other documents from anyone involved in the harassment incident.
For further advice on dealing with harassment complaints as an employer, meet with an experienced Dallas lawyer at Kardell Law Group.