Sexual Harassment Investigation Guide For Employers

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Managers face a mountain of tasks and issues that need resolved on any given day, but few things are worse than learning about allegations of sexual harassment in your workplace. No one wants to believe that this could happen to them or their employees, but it is unfortunately more common than you might think.

If you’re wondering how you can best deal with these allegation, then the first step is to learn about effective investigations into the matter. All too many managers fail to take the correct actions, landing themselves or the company in hot water. Before that happens, check out this employer’s guide to sexual harassment investigations.

Take It Seriously

No matter what the complaint is or which employee opened it, make sure you take every complaint serious. That goes for informal ones as well as those that are formal in nature. It doesn’t matter who was involved or what happened, listen to the issue and understand that you need to follow the correct process moving forward.

First, ensure employees have plenty of ways they can raise a complaint. Their supervisors and HR are two of the best options. You should also ensure that employees can raise these complaints without any fear of retaliation.

Cultivating this environment beforehand is ideal, but you can make sure that employees feel valued and heard when complains arise if the above environment isn’t entirely implemented or had not been fully addressed. Finally, the sooner you begin the process the easier it is to stop the situation from snowballing out of control.

The Investigation

With the groundwork out of the way, it’s time to begin investigating the situation. It’s vital that you remain impartial during the process, no matter how well you may know any employees involved. It’s also in your best interest to conduct this investigation with another manager or someone from HR, allowing them to act as a witness during interviews.

Next, you’ll want to create a confidential file that documents the entire process. It should include the initial claim, the names of the individuals involved, and the individuals investigating the complaint. It should also include the following:

  •         All of your interview notes
  •         All communication with witnesses, the accused, and the complainant
  •         Any written statements
  •         Any document relating to the investigation
  •         The investigator’s report
  •         Any documentation that notifies the parties involved
  •         And any remedial action taken as a result

Preventing Retaliation

It’s essential that you and your company do not retaliate against employees. This is highly illegal, and you will find yourself facing a workplace sexual harassment lawyer if this happens. Take no actions against anyone until the investigation is finished, and never take action against the complainant.

Once you’ve interviewed all parties involved and you’ve prepared your report, featuring the chronology of invents and evaluations of credibility, it’s time to take corrective action. Company policy can help guide you here, and HR is always available to discuss the appropriate course of action for your findings. From there, just follow up with both parties to prevent future instances.