The ideal solution to preventing workplace harassment is to establish an effective complaint/grievance system and take prompt, appropriate action if a complaint is filed.
Training your employees is an important part in the enforcement process. You want them to report any and all claims of harassment they encounter. Document your training sessions, attendees and follow up notices and keep this documentation on file.
Some complaint procedure tips for managers outlined by the EEOC include:
- Encourage employees to report harassment to management before it becomes severe or overly repetitive.
- Designate more than one individual to take complaints, and should ensure that these individuals are in accessible locations- this can be a team in human resources, or a group of managers designated to handling complaints.
- Instruct all supervisors to report complaints of any harassment they observe to the designated individuals.
- Assure employees that all possible measures are being taken to protect the confidentiality of their complaint.
You should take every complaint seriously. Meet with the complainant in private to listen to his or her complaint.
Privately interview all parties involved. Do not assume guilt or innocence. Ask all parties involved to write down what happened. These facts may be used to detect inconsistencies in later discussions.
Identify and interview any potential witnesses. Ask them tell you what they know and get a written statement from them if they are willing to give one.
Keeping a paper trail is essential for providing needed evidence should legal action be needed down the road. You can never have too much information regarding an incident- you would much rather be safe than sorry when it comes to legal matters.
Act quickly and respond immediately after the interviews.
After your investigation is complete be ready to make a determination. If you are confident that no harassment occurred, explain your conclusion and define what conduct is unacceptable in the future. If harassment has occurred, take appropriate action either to warn or, if necessary, terminate the employee. If you cannot reach a clear conclusion, communicate this fact and keep documents in employees’ files for future reference.