Tips for dealing with sexual harassment complaints

Over the past few weeks, we have discussed several factors about how you should deal with a sexual harassment complaint that is made by an employee. Most of the information in those posts was regarding the steps you should take to address the complaint. It is equally as important that you react in a suitable manner to the complaints.

When an employee comes to you with a complaint of sexual harassment, you shouldn't get upset with the employee voicing the complaint. It might help to remember that the complaining employee is the victim if the complaint is factual. Keeping calm and not reacting with anger can help to protect your company from claims of retaliation.

Once you have heard the complaint, you should keep an open mind. This is especially true if the complaint is against an employee who has always been a good employee. Don't assume that there is no factual basis to the complaint of sexual harassment based solely on who the complainant is or who the accused person is.

As you go about handling the complaint, you should consider the possibility that government agencies might be called in. It is possible that the complainant might file a complaint with an appropriate government agency. If that occurs, it is vital that you cooperate with the agency officials.

There are some instances in which the answer to the sexual harassment complaint is clear-cut. In other cases, the truth might not be so easy to determine. Understanding your legal duties to the complainant and the accused party might help you to plan your steps as you complete the investigation.

Source: Nolo.com, "How to Handle Discrimination and Harassment Complaints," accessed Sep. 23, 2015

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