Employee complaints can cost your company thousands, which is why being proactive about them is so important. Things may go well for your company for years without any employee incidents, but that can change in a heartbeat. You need to have proper protocols in place to address allegations of harassment or discrimination brought by one of your employees.
If you fail to put a plan in place ahead of time, your company’s human resources and management teams could make mistakes that open your company up to liability. What are the appropriate steps to take when a worker speaks up and says they’ve experienced sexual harassment or racial discrimination at work?
Take the complaint seriously
Everyone in your management and human resources teams should understand the importance of being the one to take a harassment report. If a worker comes to anyone within your company, those workers need to know the right way to handle the complaint.
Arranging for a sit-down meeting in a private location is important so that the person making the report feels comfortable. It is also crucial that the person taking the report write down all of the important details and request any documentation that the individual reporting the issue has collected.
Conduct an unbiased investigation
Once you have the details of the alleged harassment or discrimination, you can start looking into the situation to corroborate or refute the claim. Rather than approaching the situation with bias, meaning you seek to exonerate the individual accused, it is crucial that your company remain unbiased and focus on reaching the truth instead. Keeping records of what other people witnessed and determining if the issue is legitimate is one of the most important steps in handling a harassment claim.
Mount an appropriate response
If your investigation determines that the harassment did not occur or that the incident does not meet the definition of discrimination, you will need to have a sit-down meeting with the worker who filed the complaint to explain your investigation and why you reached that conclusion.
If you determine that their accusations were legitimate, then you need to take appropriate action to resolve the matter. Sensitivity training could be one option. Moving the offender to a different department or possibly terminating them could also be appropriate responses depending on the circumstances.
If your company handles allegations of harassment on the job appropriately, it will significantly limit its possible risk of a lawsuit from the person who brought the complaint. Knowing the steps to take as an employer facing a worker complaint can reduce the risk that comes from bringing in new staff.