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Responding appropriately to a sexual harassment complaint

When an employee files a sexual harassment complaint or claim, it is important to respond calmly and professionally to this turn of events. The law protects workers from sexual harassment in the workplace and you will almost certainly be held accountable for taking certain actions out of panic.

You almost certainly want to protect your workers from sexual harassment and discrimination within your place of business. But you also want to make sure that your business’s reputation remains intact. By responding calmly and professionally to a sexual harassment complaint or claim, you can boost employee confidence in your approach and keep your business running smoothly at the same time.

First, please avoid firing or otherwise taking negative action against the employee who has filed the complaint or suit. These actions could make the entire situation worse for a myriad of reasons, including the fact that the employee could sue you for wrongful termination. Instead, speak with an attorney about how to handle the immediate aftermath of this situation legally, professionally and with respect for your employees.

Second, it is important to respond to the complaint quickly and adequately. The actions you take will depend on the circumstances surrounding the complaint. Investigating the employee’s claims, reinforcing anti-harassment policies within your entire workforce and other actions will help to ensure that the employee is heard and that you are not viewed as negligent in regards to enforcing anti-harassment policies. Your attorney can provide further guidance on what actions should be taken at this point.

Source: Findlaw Free Enterprise, “5 Things Not to Do After a Sexual Harassment Complaint,” Daniel Taylor, June 4, 2014

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