Will You Know What to Do If a Harassment Complaint Hits?
FILED UNDER “NO KIDDING”:
Harassment complaints are nothing to take lightly. They can be expensive, disruptive and damaging to your company in so many ways.
FILED UNDER “WHAT THE…”:
Way too many businesses are ill prepared to deal with a harassment complaint when one is filed.
Not good, people. Not good.
We recently came across a post over at Workforce that offers a cautionary tale and some solid advice on how to handle reports of harassment in the workplace. The article opens with a story about sexual harassment that is truly cringe-worthy:
Ruby Blackmon claimed that for a ten-month period, her second-level manager inappropriately stared at her breasts three to 10 times per day, would sexually rub her back, and would breath on her back and ear. Blackmon made ten different complaints to an HR manager, an administrative manager, and her immediate supervisor, all of which were ignored, except for one occasion when her immediate supervisor simply told her that the alleged harasser “liked breasts.” To make matters worse, on the heels of one complaint, her immediate supervisor gave her a negative evaluation. She filed suit after her termination.
Everyone done slapping his or her heads yet? Sheesh! OK, let’s move on to the lessons learned from others’ mistakes portion of our blog post.
Management, Prepare Yourself!
“It is important for managers and executives to realize that how they react to a harassment claim, whether they think it is merited or not, becomes part of the issue itself,” says Tina Hamilton, PHR, president of myHR Partner. “As soon as an incident or situation is brought to your attention, you are on record yourself. That’s why it is critical to know how to respond to such scenarios properly.”
Workforce included a great list of tips for how to respond to harassment complaints, including this seemingly simple advice that is, in fact, extremely important:
Don’t demean, belittle, or joke about the alleged victim. It will undermine the objectivity of your investigation.
Before an incident occurs, providing training to your management team about what constitutes harassment and discrimination and how to react to complaints is something every business should do. And of course, compiling and reviewing all related documents (including social media posts, emails, and text messages), preventing retaliation and taking steps to reasonably keep the accuser and accused from interacting on the job if a complaint is filed are also important steps to take.
Make Sure Your Managers Are Well Trained!
myHR Partner has a wide range of training offerings that will help you educate your managers so that they can play a pivotal role in protecting your organization and its brand. Beyond good for business, some states, like California, require annual or periodic harassment training as well.
Whether you are looking for workshops on harassment and documentation, or some other HR need, our team is ready to assist you. Click here for more on our dynamic and customizable training programs.
SPECIAL ALERT: PPACA Prohibits Employers From Reimbursing Individual Plan Premiums
The Department of Labor recently released new information regarding the Affordable Care Act emphasizing that employers are prohibited from providing employees cash reimbursement for purchasing individual market policies, regardless of whether the reimbursement is on a pre-tax or after-tax basis. Considered “group health plans” by the DOL, these types of arrangements are subject to the market reform provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Are you aware of how this may affect means to your organization?