The Tricky Situation of Investigating Sexual Harassment

Dealing with sexual harassment at work is not something that you have to deal with everyday. Hopefully it is something that you will never have to worry about. However, since one of my clients asked me to investigate allegations of harassment in their business recently, I thought I would write about it here, just in case you ever need to know how to handle it.

My client told me that one of their female members of staff reported a male colleague to her line manager. The two people work closely together, in a small office that is separate from the main business. They spend most of their working hours together, with no one else around. They have worked together for a long time.

As soon as the harassment was reported, I advised my client to ask the female member of staff to provide him with a statement, describing the situation that she believed to be harassment. She listed a large number of conversations, actions and text messages which she believed to be harassment, in great detail, along with the dates and times that they had occurred.

Once he had this, my client then had to carry out a misconduct investigation with the male member of staff. This should always be done by someone who is impartial to the situation and who can see both sides of the case. The manager should remain open minded when looking into the substance of the employee’s complaint. An employee who is being harassed or bullied at work will be upset and the natural emotional reactions caused by bullying or harassment may in some cases lead to exaggeration or distortion of the facts reported. I wrote in detail about how to carry out any staff investigation in this blog earlier this year and all the information is here.

The aim of an investigation is to establish, so far as possible, the facts. Carrying out a full investigation was essential for my client, to help him decide if his female member of staff had made up her allegations, or if there was a case to answer.

So how do you deal with someone who is bullying or harassing a fellow member of staff? We’ll look at that in a future blog. In the meantime, if you are at all worried about possible harassment or bullying amongst your employees, please get in touch now so that we can deal with it promptly. Call us on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me.

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There are many cloud-based systems that you can use for all your HR needs. Store employee records, along with templates for letters and documents. File details of requests for Flexible Working or Shared Parental Leave. Every time you take on new member of staff or you need to inform your employees of changes and updates, it is simple to do through your online system. This is also a safe way to store details of meetings and reviews you hold with your staff.

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The Cost of Peace of Mind

The cost depends on the number of employees in your organisation. Call us on 0118 940 3032 or click here to email me for more details on this new service.