California employers dread accusations of harassment in the workplace. Not only do these accusations negatively affect a company’s reputation and employee morale, but they can be costly. Employers are expected to have safeguards in place to protect workers who may feel they are subjected to harassment. Still, just because an accusation was made does not mean it is true. Nevertheless, the employer is obligated to act on the complaint.
Employers must remember to have a comprehensive guide adhering the basic principles and institute a process for workers who claim they are being harassed. Employers are advised to protect against these claims by having experienced legal guidance.
What should be included in the workplace harassment policy?
The policy should be clear from the outset when an employee is hired and employers should update it regularly. Adequate training is wise for the entire workforce, especially for those in management and supervisory positions. When there are allegations of wrongdoing, workers must be aware of the avenues available to lodge a complaint. If penalties are meted out, promptness and evenhandedness is essential.
How should investigations be handled?
When complaints arise, they should be investigated with every perspective given a voice – the alleged perpetrator and the victim. If an employee says that a colleague is behaving inappropriately, the employer must take that complaint and direct it to the proper channels for a full investigation.
Employers should do their best to keep the investigation confidential, but it can be limited. The investigation must be conducted in as impartial a manner as possible. Objectivity can avoid allegations of favoritism. All employers can do is try to have a workplace that is free of harassing behaviors and when it is alleged to have happened, take the proper steps to address it.
Privately owned companies must protect themselves with professional guidance
Employment litigation defense tactics include:
- Educating yourself about the law
- Having legal counsel help you craft employee handbooks
- Letting workers know the business policies for harassment complaints
- Following your established investigation process to the letter
Don’t think that it will never happen at your company. Be diligent about protecting yourself and your business.