This topic has dominated the headlines the past few months, but it doesn’t only concern the Hollywood elite and elected officials. All employers must ask themselves if they know how to properly react to and manage accusations or revelations of sexual harassment, from a legal standpoint, in any case.
To avoid making some mistakes in handling the revelation or accusations as an employer, here are some key do’s and don’ts to bear in mind:
- Do immediately notify the company’s legal counsel
- Don’t try to keep it a secret, this will only backfire
- Do inform the alleged victim that the accusation is taken seriously and that proper procedures will be followed
- Do not try to convince the victim that they have misunderstood, are imagining, or that it’s not true
- Do launch a formal investigation, as per your legal obligations, that will protect the confidentiality of the alleged victim’s identity
- Do not try to negotiate hush-money with the victim
- Do alert the staff representation bodies, if applicable in your company
- Don’t forget that employers have a legal obligation to protect their employees and to react in case of such danger
- Do summon the alleged harasser for an interview once the facts are clarified
- Don’t leave them out of the whole process
If the alleged facts are serious enough, consider suspending the professional interactions between the alleged harasser and the alleged victim for the duration of the investigation.