Matt Lauer, John Conyers Jr., and many more high profile names on the list of men that have been terminated due to sexual harassment allegations. The #metoo movement, a place where victims can come out in the open, has rising numbers showing up on social media, bringing even more attention to this issue. SHRM asks, are companies reacting too quickly to avoid public relation disasters and not investigating or are things finally being done to resolve the issue?
Investigating further, rather than immediately terminating an accused employee can avoid the filing of wrongful termination case or possible defamation. If you have credible evidence, it may be appropriate to fire the harasser. But, how should employers I handle an investigation?
React quickly to the accusations by meeting with both parties. Ask questions, a lot of questions. Use a standard form for investigations. Be sensitive in the matter and get both parities sides of the story. Write everything down- using a harassment form that is standard for your company can help you stay consistent and ask the right questions. Get witnesses statements, if applicable. If you need to suspend an employee during at this time do so instead of quickly firing them. If you are not comfortable or familiar with handling harassment claims, Helpside can step in and assist.
However you handle the harassment, you need to be consistent with each case in the process, disciplinary actions, and terminations. Keep in mind that harassers can be either gender, so be careful not to assume that every male accused of harassment is guilty. Have a member of each opposite sex from human resources or management involved in the investigation. If this is not possible, have Helpside step in to assist. This step will help to ensure objectivity and fairness. Again, what is most important is that you are consistent with how you handle every incident.
Having a plan in place with how you are going to handle a sexual harassment claim will help you handle it to the best of your ability. Take the SHRM quiz to test your knowledge about sexual harassment. If you have questions about sexual harassment training for your employees or how to handles a sexual harassment situation in your workplace, contact our HR experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or (801) 443-1090.