How To Handle Sexual Harassment Complaints: A Primer for Small Business

The topic of sexual harassment is something all business owners need to be aware of and have a plan in place for handling. The very first good piece of advice a business can get when it comes to sexual harassment complaints is to not ignore them. Not only are these allegations indications of one employee showing a complete lack of respect for another, but harassment issues can also become huge legal problems if they are not handled properly.

Create A Policy With The Help Of A Lawyer

The way a small business handles a sexual harassment complaint starts with having a strong harassment policy created with the help of a legal expert. It might take months to have a good policy put in place and it might cost a lot of money, but the money a strong policy in writing could save you in lawsuits will more than pay for the creation of the policy.

Train Your Employees

Every six months, you should require your employees to attend a mandatory sexual harassment training where you explain the policies in detail. You should encourage your employees to ask questions and every employee should sign the attendance sheet for each training. Part of this process is to cover your business in case something happens, but the other part is to make sure that everyone understands how to identify and report sexual harassment.

Act On Every Complaint

When you do receive an sexual harassment complaint, you should act on it immediately. You should interview both parties individually, and also talk to any potential witnesses. If you have the resources, you should hire an outside firm to do the investigation and make sure all of the important information is collected properly.

It is important to take every complaint seriously, and it is also important to insist that anyone who is claiming harassment fill out the company’s form and conform to the company’s policies. The policies should protect accusers, but you should also remember that everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Make A Decision

The biggest mistake your company can make is to try and hope that sexual harassment accusations just go away over time. The surest way to destroy your company’s reputation and invite lawsuits is to ignore sexual harassment complaints. Once the information has been collected, you must make a decision on what to do.

There are firms you can hire that will make the decision for you, but you are still bound to take action based on the company’s recommendations. If you have to fire an employee, then do so. If the accuser wants to pursue the problem legally, then you should not stand in the way. If you handled the problem properly, then you have all the documentation you need to protect your business.

A sexual harassment complaint is a very emotional situation for the accuser and a very serious situation for your company. It is important to show compassion while utilizing the written policies of the company for handling sexual harassment accusations.