workplace harassment
Workplace Harassment – The Investigation!

Workplace harassment is a very unpleasant experience for everyone. Uncovering the details can be an intimidating process for business owners and HR. In this article, we will outline the steps to a workplace harassment investigation. This information will help you handle this delicate matter with the respect and thoroughness it deserves.

Step 1 – Select an interviewer.

The workplace harassment investigation should be conducted as expeditiously as possible after receiving the claim. Choose a manager, company officer, or HR representative who can be impartial. They must approach the investigation process without a presumption of guilt or innocence and with a commitment to being fair and thorough. Ideally, this person has completed training on conducting a harassment investigation.

Step 2 – Conduct interviews and gather evidence.

Speak with the employee who made the workplace harassment claim (if known), the accused employee, and any witnesses named. The questions asked during the interviews should not lead an interviewee toward a particular response and should not be accusatory in nature. The questions should be unbiased, open ended, and prepared in advance. Follow-up questions should be asked, if needed. Collect any documents, emails, photographs, videos, etc., that might exist and assist in coming to a fair conclusion in the investigation.

Step 4 – Make a decision and take action.

Once the interviews are complete and all evidence is gathered, decide what to do and document the conclusions and actions taken. If the company determines the accused employee violated the harassment or other workplace policy, appropriate disciplinary measures should be taken. What qualifies as appropriate will depend on the severity of behavior of this workplace harassment incident. A summary of the findings should be placed in the accused employee’s file. The accused employee should be reminded that any retaliation against their accuser is unacceptable.

Step 5 – Inform the employee who reported the workplace harassment claim.

Alert the offended employee and others with a true need to know about the conclusions reached in the investigation. While the specific disciplinary action taken (if applicable) doesn’t need to be shared, assure the employee appropriate steps to address this situation and prevent future harassment have been taken. Remind this employee that retaliation is not be tolerated and to notify management if they’re experiencing any backlash because of reporting the harassment.

All reports of workplace harassment should be taken seriously. Handling each one with care and expeditiously is equally important. If you would like support with employee harassment training, we’d love to help! Contact us at your convenience.

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workplace harassment
Workplace Harassment – The Training Program!

A workplace harassment program is crucial to running a successful business. Otherwise, you might end up spending more time being a referee or mediator than a business owner. Not to mention, how important it is to preventing legal issues. In this article, we’ll outline what a workplace harassment program should look like. This will be a birds-eye view so if you want help creating a program (so you stay out of the weeds), we invite you to reach out.

Workplace Harassment Training Program

Leadership Must Be Committed and Engaged

The workplace harassment program is more than something that checks a box. Leadership demonstrates a genuine commitment to creating a welcoming, safe, and supportive work environment by dedicating resources for the development and implementation of a training program. This means Leadership understands this as a standalone program, beyond the EEO policy, and is equally important.

Comprehensive Anti-Harassment Policies

To ensure there is no chance the definition of workplace harassment and the associated behaviors are not clear, an organization must have written, detailed policies. This means it is clear what workplace harassment is, as well as what it is not. Understanding by all is not left to chance or assumption. Every employee must participate in the education process and sign off verifying their understanding and commitment to cooperating with the policies. These policies are part of the employee handbook and are easily accessible by all via print and digital formats. Policies must be reviewed and kept up to date with current trends and legislation.

Trusted and Accessible Reporting Procedures

The steps to report an incident must be clear. The promise of a professional and respectful investigation must have consistent follow-through. Additionally, the protection from retaliation must be communicated and enforced.

Regular, Interactive Training Tailored to the Organization

Workplace harassment education isn’t a one-time event. It’s good practice to make this training part of a yearly organizational training program for all employees, including all leadership roles. It’s human nature to “forget” so this minimum yearly reminder will keep the commitment to a harassment-free workplace top of mind for all employees.

Contact us if you’d like help creating a workplace harassment training program for your organization.