#Me Too – Protect your employees and your business from sexual harassment complaints.
Sexual Harassment cases have hit the media at an alarming rate. Businesses found to be at fault for allowing sexual harassment at work are at risk of losing a lot of money. When it happens to small businesses, it could mean the loss of the business itself. Here are some tips to protect your business. Having a policy lays the groundwork for how to identify hassment and what to do it occurs.
Have a Policy
Include a policy in your employee handbook that describes what sexual harassment is. Also include what the employee should do if they believe they are being harassed. Te employee should understand who to speak with and have a couple of options of people they can speak with. Options should include leaders of different genders and someone not in the direct line of supervision of the employee. Train supervisors on how to listen to complaints and take them seriously.
Managers and supervisors must be accountable to listen to the complaint, understand that it is not okay to blow it off, and know what the next step is that they are responsible to take. Not taking complaints seriously is a big problem and only causes more problems. This is serious for the employee and your business, make sure you investigate.
Investigate the Complaint
The owner of the company, or their designee, should thoroughly investigate the complaint by talking to other employees who may have overheard conversations or been a witness to inappropriate conduct. Be discreet, but investigate. Don’t make the mistake of appearing that the issue is not important (by not investigating immediately). And don’t make statements to others that appear that you are not taking the complaint seriously. Document all conversations as you gather the information and act immediately.
Once you gather the information, act on the information. When complaints are found to be valid, it may be the best decison for your business to terminate the harasser. If the complaint is found to be a misunderstanding that doesn’t appear to be harassment, document it. Communicate to the harasser that the behavior has been misinterpreted and put them on notice to be more aware of their behavior. Don’t leave out the step of getting back to the complainant and letting them know what you found. If you are in doubt, get some professional help.
Get Professional Help
Often it is a good idea to have someone outside the company investigate the complaint. It send a message to the complainant that you are taking it seriously and want an unbiased investigator. Wise HR can help you with investigating complaints. Finally, it may be a good idea to contact an attorney who specializes in labor and employment relations to make sure you are doing what you need to do to protect your employees and your company.
Take the complaints seriously, your business is important.