Employers have a duty to investigate any claims that employees make regarding sexual harassment. When an employee approaches their manager, supervisor or any other company representative with a complaint of sexual harassment, swift action is necessary. The reaction of your management team to these complaints can impact how the complainant reacts.
One of the most important things to do in these cases is maintain confidentiality. You will discuss some aspects of the matter during the investigative process. Many companies have a dedicated person to handle these cases. Discussions about the alleged incident with that individual must be kept confidential as well. Any breaches of this confidentiality can have an adverse effect on the outcome of the matter.
All members of the response team need to be both discreet and compassionate. Rehashing the complaint in workplace is very disruptive. Not only can it make the complainant feel uncomfortable, it can ruin the accused person’s reputation before the facts are determined.
As the employer, you need to have protocols in place for managing sexual harassment complaints. Your policy on sexual harassment must be displayed and made available for all employees. The sexual harassment policy must forbid retaliation in all forms and the complainant must be made aware of this.
Once the complaint is made, whether it is factual or not, the complainant and the accused should be separated to prevent any potential incidents. It is at this point that it is prudent to consult with your Pittsburgh attorney to ensure you are protecting your company while also respecting the rights of the complainant.