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Your Anti-harassment Policy, Part 2: Handling Complaints

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In a previous post we talked about the basics of an anti-harassment policy, including what constitutes harassment, the definition of sexual harassment and how to build and communicate a proper anti-harassment policy. So let’s say one of your workers complains about an incident of harassment. What procedure should you have in place to make sure your company handles the complaint fairly and legally?

The first thing you have to do is ensure that employees feel secure about bringing such complains to your HR department. While you may not be able to lock down the confidentiality of the people involved, you must affirm that you will do everything in your power to protect employee privacy in these delicate matters. You should also assure them that your company will not tolerate any kind of revenge or retaliation in response to the complaint.

Address complaints with an immediate response to create the perception that your company takes this policy seriously. Investigate it thoroughly and take action according to your policy. Document everything.

You should also make the reporting process as clear and trouble-free as possible for the employee making the complaint. In addition to contacting the HR department, they should feel free to approach a supervisor, manager, office director or other internal authority. If the harassment comes from their own boss, they should known that they can bring a complaint to someone outside the direct chain of command.

As obvious as it may seem, remember that before your employees can follow your anti-harassment procedures, they must know what those procedures are. That’s why you have to include your complaint procedure as part of your official written policy so everyone understands what to do. Make sure you include the possible penalties for workplace harassment, which may include everything from reprimands up to and including to suspension without pay or even termination for major violations.

Companies that follow these steps will find themselves in a much better position if any of these complaints are elevated to the legal system or the EEOC.

These are complex issues, so if you’d like more details, contact us – we’re happy to help!

Written by Dan Hettrich

August 5, 2011 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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