Tips for Employers
Your employees have the legal right to report discrimination and harassment. In these situations, it's not your job to judge, shift blame, or make light of the situation. It's your job to listen and investigate. While dealing with discrimination and harassment complaints can be difficult, doing so properly can help keep you and your business on the right side of the law. Take a look at the tips below as a guideline on handling these types of complaints.
Even in the most harmonious workplaces, discrimination and harassment can occur. When you receive a complaint, realize how much courage it took for the accuser to come forward, and listen intently to the complaint. That said, sometimes people can have a reputation for continuously making complaints or creating issues. Avoid drawing your own conclusions based on assumption without proper investigation as this could potentially hurt you in the future. Cover yourself by taking each and every complaint seriously. Doing so will keep you out of trouble with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Be careful of your next steps
If you cut hours or pay, fire, demote, or reassign your employee after making a complaint, it can be viewed as retaliation and could land you in hot water.
Conduct a full investigation
After the complaint is made, you need to investigate the situation and you need to move in a timely fashion. Discover what happened, where it happened, what was said or done, and what witnesses were involved. If a third party investigator needs to take on the investigation, don't hesitate to hire one. Be sure to document what was found and keep the information between yourself and the people involved.
Take the appropriate disciplinary actions
If based upon your investigation the complaint is valid, be sure to discipline the wrongdoer. Be mindful of what type of action is appropriate. For example, will a warning or suspension suffice or does the law need to get involved? On the flipside, if the employee who made the complaint is in the wrong, he or she should also be appropriately disciplined.