Sexual harassment has been in the news a great deal over the past several years. Your Human Resources Department and your employees must know how to handle sexual harassment appropriately by taking the following steps.
Establish Policies and Procedures
It’s highly relevant to establish your policies against sexual harassment upfront. Define it and establish a no-tolerance policy in your employee handbook. Make it clear that sexual harassment is against the law and grounds for sanction and dismissal.
Sexual harassment is any act (said, gestured, written, and so forth) that happens if one employee makes unwelcome sexual advances or requests, or other sexualized physical or verbal acts, to another employee against the latter employee’s wishes. It is the creation of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Outline the policies for reporting sexual harassment to HR. Include statements that reports can be made without any fear of consequences or retaliation.
Conduct an Inquiry
If an employee does bring a sexual harassment claim, treat it honestly, according to the procedures you’ve established. Ask the employee to tell you about the incident(s), in their own words. Reassure them that they took the right action and reiterate that there will be no retaliation.
Take thorough notes about the report, including who was involved, any witnesses, dates, and times.
Then, let the accused person know a complaint was made. Assure them that it will be investigated thoroughly and fairly. Caution them against any retaliation and gossip.
Interview the accused, taking thorough notes here as well.
If either party indicates the presence of witnesses, interview the witnesses. Ask open-ended questions about what they witnessed (That is, don’t just ask them if what you’ve already heard accords with their view.) Caution them against retaliation and gossip as well.
Be careful to be nonjudgmental to all parties involved.
Come to a Decision
Once you have all the relevant information, you need to decide on the next steps. Review your notes and other information. Consult with colleagues in the HR Department. It’s a good idea to talk to a lawyer before coming to a decision as well.
Was the incident of sexual harassment according to the law and your company policies? If it was, decide what the appropriate action is. Options include disciplinary action or changing the types of work the people perform or the relationships between them (e.g., moving a direct report to another supervisor).
Make sure that your decision aligns with the policies you’ve outlined in the handbook.
Partner With a Staffing Agency.
At Expert Staffing, we can consult re advisable sexual harassment policies and how to handle them. We can partner in every aspect of the hiring and employment process. To find out how to use our services to optimize your company, contact a consultant today.