Owning a business is hard work and can result in a high amount of stress. One of the greatest sources of stress is employee relations and how people get along with each other.

When one employee accuses another of sexual harassment, do you know how to deal with it? As a business owner, you set the tone for how the proceedings will go.

Do not ignore the allegation

The first thing you should do is get the full account of the incident from both parties. Start with the reporting party first and get his or her side of the story. It is a good idea to have someone else with you when you have the meeting: either a human resources representative or an attorney.

Do not remove the complaining employee

You may think it is a good idea to give the complaining party a few days off, but only offer to do so if he or she is receptive. Do make sure you document the offer and the response, just so you have it later on when your attorney wants to see how you handled it. Forcing the complaining party to stay home will only make it look like your attempt to sweep the incident under the rug.

Do not wait to contact an attorney

You may think you can handle a sexual harassment allegation yourself as it may appear cut and dried. However, it is in your company’s best interest to let an experienced attorney handle the situation. If you do not, your company may wind up on the hook for damages in a lawsuit.

Do not lash out at the accused

Once you get the complaining party’s side of things, you may feel an immediate need to discipline the person accused of the harassment. Do not immediately fire or suspend the accused without getting corroboration of the account.

You should take all sexual harassment charges seriously with or without corroboration. Take action and get the ball rolling to clear the air or rid your business of a toxic employee.