Most employers wish they never had to deal with a sexual harassment claim, but the sad reality is that this is sometimes inevitable. You must be prepared to handle these situations to ensure that no lawsuits are raised against you. Engaging a business lawyer will help you set an action plan to properly deal with a sexual harassment claim from an employee.
Organise A Written Sexual Harassment Policy
Your first action, before any issue takes place, should be to set a sexual harassment workplace policy, which must be read regularly by all employees. This policy should include actions that constitute sexual harassment, the complaint filing process and an escalation matrix to help employees understand the seriousness of the offence. Not only will this help employees understand sexual harassment better, but it will also create a sense of safety at the workplace.
Take Fact-Finding Action Immediately
If a sexual harassment claim has been raised in your office, don't delay. You must take action immediately to scrutinise the matter. Call your lawyer immediately and inform them of the situation that has arisen at the office. You may need to hire an external investigator to ensure that the scrutiny into the matter is undertaken in the most impartial manner possible. This will protect your business from any lawsuits in the long run.
Follow The Corrective Action Procedures Determined In The Policy
Following the details of the investigative findings, your next action should be to follow the procedures determined in the policy. If the allegations have been proven true, you will need to take disciplinary action against the guilty party, which may or may not include termination based on your specific policy. If the allegations were untrue, you may have to take action against the accuser depending on the situation. Make sure your policy covers disciplinary action in both situations so that you know exactly what to do.
Keep All Written Records For Future Reference
All studies and reports related to the issue should be filed and kept for any future reference, in case an employee takes legal action against you. These records will help to protect your interests when you need to defend your actions in the court of law, if it comes to that. You can hold on to a copy of the complaint and leave one with your lawyer to protect your interests at all costs.
A sexual harassment claim isn't a small issue; so make sure you talk with a commercial lawyer and prepare well for a situation where it may arise in your business to protect your interests.