According to a study performed by the Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network (RAINN), approximately 81 percent of women and 20 percent of men experience sexual harassment in the workplace. When instances of sexual harassment are reported, employers must conduct investigations into the allegations and take appropriate remedial action. Unfortunately, many employers fail to handle sexual harassment claims correctly, which leaves them susceptible to litigation and liability. It is crucial for employers to report sexual harassment in the workplace correctly to protect their workers and prevent liability.
Sensitivity is Critical in Sexual Harassment Claims
In a misguided attempt to quickly end the dispute, employers may ask the two parties, the accuser and the accused, to come together to discuss the allegations. This can be damaging for the victim. This sensitive and serious matter needs to have appropriate action to protect the victim and to protect the employer from liability. The forced meeting of these parties is an inappropriate way to handle a sexual harassment complaint.
Employers should treat the situation delicately and properly respond to the parties’ stances, especially the complainant’s feelings. The person alleging harassment usually does not want to meet with the harasser and vice versa. All employers should begin the process by asking both parties if they would like to have a meeting. If they do not agree, each party should be interviewed separately.
Ask Questions to Protect the Victim
The employer should thoroughly assess the situation and look at the standpoint of the accuser; they should ask questions the victim would want answered to feel safe and secure in the workplace. Sometimes, the situation can be resolved by making simple administrative changes, such as transferring an employee to another department or adjusting work schedules. By asking questions, employers can show that they are genuinely concerned about the victim. This provides both parties with an in-house solution.
Gather Evidence of the Incident
Upon receiving a sexual harassment complaint, an employer must conduct a good-faith investigation, which includes interviewing all potential witnesses. Employers should not forget to ask the complainant if anyone witnessed the alleged sexual harassment to identify and interview any potential witnesses. Employers have a legal duty to preserve relevant information to protect the victim and provide a safe work environment; they should gather as much evidence as possible, including emails and security camera footage.
Communicate with Both Parties
Lawsuits are often initiated because an employer failed to communicate the results of their investigation to both parties. When complainants do not hear from their employer after reporting instances of sexual harassment, they may feel as though they are not taken seriously, which can prompt a lawsuit. Employers need to communicate the results of their investigation to both parties, regardless of the outcome.
Philadelphia Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Employers Investigate Complaints
For advice on how to handle an employee sexual harassment complaint, contact a Philadelphia sexual harassment lawyer at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Our experienced attorneys will fight for your legal rights and take the appropriate action. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County, as well as South Jersey.