Harassment claims are bound to arise at some point in your organization. How you deal with them can make or break your company. The employees could feel happier and safer if you handle it right, and your organization could avoid any negative publicity.
Here is what you need to do when an employee makes a harassment claim:
Treat allegations seriously and investigate
Do not downplay any allegations reported to you by an employee. Treat all reports with urgency and ensure investigations are done by someone knowledgeable about the organization and impartial to the case. The investigation should be done conclusively and on time. Unnecessary delays may seem like you are not doing enough to address the harassment.
Maintain the confidentiality of those involved
Do not disclose unnecessary details that don’t help the case to others. Assure the victim that their information will not be divulged until a point where it is necessary to rope in third parties. Gaining the trust of your employees is very important when it comes to reporting harassment cases.
Take decisive action
Once investigations are complete, do not take halfhearted measures or actions against the culpable party (assuming the allegations are not unfounded). You could seem to be protecting them if you fail to act decisively.
Cooperate with government bodies
If the claim is also being investigated by external agencies like the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC), it is advisable to cooperate. Do not resist any information request from these regulatory bodies.
Strengthen your anti-harassment policy
Assess the effectiveness of your current anti-harassment policy by finding out where the harassment occurred and sealing any loopholes. Consider mass employee training around your workplace anti-harassment policy, and make them aware of how to report such cases.
If you don’t have an actual policy, it may be time to formulate one. It could save your business a lot in terms of costly litigation.