January 11, 2018
Authored by: Mimi Moore
What if you were the Human Resources representative that received a complaint that Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, or any of the other number of accused sexually harassed an employee? What if you were the in-house counsel and received the complaint? With the rise of sexual harassment allegations receiving increased scrutiny, employers need to have proper procedures in place for handling claims of sexual and other harassment in the workplace.
This is the first of a six-part series that will address guidelines and suggestions for conducting investigations of harassment complaints. Each harassment investigation, however, is different, and any investigation should be tailored to fit the particular circumstances.
A harassment “complaint” need not be written, nor does a “complaint” have to actually be made to anyone. Most of the time, an employee brings a complaint forward to a supervisor or to Human Resources. However, there are times that supervisors or Human Resources may “hear through the grapevine,” “shop talk,” or general remarks that someone believes that he or she has been harassed. In these informal “rumor” situations, just as in the situation where a formal complaint is made, prompt investigation and follow-up should be immediately undertaken. Constant vigilance and careful monitoring is one of the ways that we can ensure a workplace free of harassing behavior.
As soon as you become aware of a harassment complaint, consider:
- Harassment investigations must be conducted promptly. From the beginning of the investigation, until the complaint file is closed (meaning that