Handling Harassment Complaints
It’s not uncommon for employers to be nervous when they receive a complaint that has been filed by an employee, especially when they have to do with harassment or discrimination. These complaints can often lead to tension in the workplace, an investigation by a government entity, and lengthy legal battles. Complaints must be handled in a timely and appropriate manner. Even when they are mishandled by mistake it could be dire for the company, which could find itself out of business in no time. For this reason alone it’s important that your company has an experienced employment law attorney it can turn to for counsel and representation when such complaints arise.
Compassion and Respect Go a Long Way
One of the most important things your company must do when an employee files a complaint is to treat that person with compassion and respect. These two qualities will go a long way in making the employee feel heard and that they are part of the family. It’s unlikely that an employee will move the complaint to a higher level if they feel that it is being handled appropriately and they are being respected by their employer.
This seems like something that should never have to be mentioned but sadly many companies will retaliate against employees who file complaints. Avoid retaliating at all costs. Retaliation can take many forms, including pay cuts, demotions, dismissal, discipline or the threat of making any of these punishments come true.
Interview the Complainant
If you truly want to show the complainant you are serious about the complaint you should interview them. Schedule a time to sit down and have an open, honest conversation. Find out why the employee filed the complaint. Have them explain in-depth what happened that led to them filing the complaint. Find out exactly what was done or said and take notes. You must then talk to the employees who were accused of these actions in the complaint.
Everything Remains Confidential
One of the worst things you can do when an employee complains is let the entire office know what happened. This is a serious situation that must be kept confidential at all times. When you keep the investigation confidential you avoid the workplace being divided between the accuser and the accused. You also avoid rumors being started, which could lead to a defamation lawsuit against you and the company.
Be on the Lookout for Contradiction or Corroboration
When interviewing all of the parties involved in the complaint you must diligently look for contradiction or corroboration. You might need to use physical evidence in a discrimination or harassment complaint to find out exactly what happened. This includes checking timestamps, attendance records, schedules and other items that can either corroborate or contradict what is being said.
Did an employee recently file a complaint against another employee or a member of the management team for discrimination or harassment? If so, it’s imperative that this complaint is handled appropriately and timely. Contact the office of Thomas Paschos Law & Associates P.C. today to schedule an appointment with an employment law attorney.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.