workplace harassment

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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