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Sexual Harassment Investigation

First and foremost, all complaints need to be taken seriously and put into writing to prevent future litigation. Sexual harassment policies should include instructions on complaint procedures. This should include ways to circumvent the supervisor, in case the supervisor is the one accused of sexual harassment. A prompt investigation should be affirmed in the policy. The alleged victims will feel more comfortable coming forward if the investigation will be made with confidentiality, dignity and respect.

Recommended Questions To Ask When Investigating Sexual Harassment Complaints

Who harassed you? (The more senior the person, the greater the chance the firm may get sued.)

What did he/she do?  (Get the specifics; generalities are not sufficient.)

When did he/she do it? (Find out if there have been repeated offenses.)

Where did it happen? (On or off company property is a key fact.)

Were there any witnesses? (Try to corroborate the employee’s story; be careful not to lead witnesses.)

Who else did you tell? (The EEOC will ask who else knew about the alleged harassment.)

Who else has been harassed? (Find out if the employee knows of anyone else who has suffered similar harassment.)

What did you do and say in response?  (Again be specific; generalities are not sufficient.)

What do you want done? (Document the answer in the event the victim later claims that he or she requested a different action.)

Would you like to see a counselor? (Specifically recommend that the employee see the health insurance covered counselor or a service of the Employee Assistance Program. If the employee refuses, document the refusal in writing.)

What to do next?

•  Review evidence.

•  Interview witnesses.

•  Interview co-workers in the department to assess overall work environment.

•  Interview alleged harasser.

•  Determine the validity of the alleged harassment.

•  If found valid, follow the appropriate disciplinary action or sanctions.

•  Document all information.

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