As an employer, it can come as a shock when an employee accuses one of your senior staff members of harassment. Your instant reaction may be to defend the manager, especially if they are someone you have known and trusted for years.
However, it is crucial to remember that while false claims can happen, you may not really know your managers as well as you think.
How you handle a workplace harassment claim is crucial
It takes courage to come forward with a harassment complaint. Employees often fear they may lose their jobs if they do so or face some other form of retaliation. You need to handle the claim with sensitivity and integrity. If you get it wrong, you could create more problems for your business. Here are some tips:
- Avoid dismissing the claim: An employee who feels you are not listening is more likely to take their complaint further. You must also avoid assuming the accused is guilty.
- Investigate the claim: Take time to carry out a thorough investigation of the complaint but do not delay in starting. People could see dragging your feet as not caring.
- Record your actions: Noting down the steps you take protects your company from claims that you did not take the complaint seriously. It can also help if there are similar accusations in the future.
- Check your employee handbook: Ensure your manual outlines your stance on discrimination and how to report it. If you end up in court, weaknesses in the manual could leave your company vulnerable.
Correctly handling harassment complaints can be challenging. Seek legal help to ensure you act according to the relevant employment laws. These are sensitive matters, and errors could land you in legal trouble that could affect the future of your business.