What you should do if an employee reports harassment?

On Behalf of | Aug 14, 2020 | Employment Law

It’s against the law for Ohio employers to harass their employees. It’s illegal for customers and colleagues to do the same.

Employees should feel safe to report harassment when it occurs, and employers should take these complaints seriously and act upon them immediately.

There should be an internal system in place to appropriately handle complaints when they arise. It’s the employer’s responsibility to inform both the accuser and the accused of how they plan to go about investigating the allegations. It’s also an employer’s job to keep both parties in the loop about any actions they take regarding the harassment complaint.

All employers should aim to document all details surrounding the harassment complaints. Your company’s leadership should use neutral and nonaccusatory language and little to no legal jargon. Employers should abstain from labeling behaviors and offering opinions or making inferences as well. If you’re going to document a reported harassment claim, then it’s best to stick to just the facts.

Your company’s written harassment policy should encourage employees to report any complaints to your human resources office. They should do so verbally rather than through email. One of the downsides to relaying such information via electronic correspondence is that it’s not privileged. Either party can use emails as evidence should a lawsuit arise.

Employers must remain neutral throughout the investigation process and thoroughly document each step they take during it. It’s best if employers take exhaustive efforts to corroborate or disprove the allegation that the accusing employee brings forth and handle it with as much confidentiality as possible.

It’s sadly not that uncommon for employees to voice harassment concerns in this era. Not listening to an accuser or giving the benefit of the doubt to the alleged perpetrator can have profound effects on both parties. Not following through in thoroughly investigating claims can affect your company’s culture and make other victims afraid to step up and report what allegedly happened to them. It can also expose your Cincinnati company to legal liability.

You need to have a plan in place for handling employee harassment claims. It’s also critical that you know what your Ohio company’s rights and responsibilities are and what protections the complainant and accused have. An experienced attorney can help walk you through this process so that you don’t end up with any legal problems.