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Handling an unfounded sexual harassment claim

Running a modern workplace can be somewhat challenging. After all, you must meet or exceed customer demands if you want to stay in business. You must also recruit and retain the best talent possible. Furthermore, in the #MeToo era, you must take a proactive approach to addressing sexual harassment claims. 

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission reports that approximately 25% of women face sexual harassment at work. Of course, men can also be the targets of inappropriate behavior. Not all harassment claims have merit, though. As an employer, this puts you in a somewhat awkward position. How do you handle an unfounded sexual harassment claim? 

Baseless claims 

The trouble with baseless sexual harassment claims is that they often look identical to legitimate ones. This may happen for a couple of different reasons. First, you may have an employee who has an ax to grind with a manager or colleague. Alternatively, your worker may misidentify innocuous behavior as inappropriate. Either way, what you do matters. 

Neutrality 

Because distinguishing between genuine and unfounded claims can be a quagmire at the outset, you may want to take a neutral approach to all sexual harassment allegations. After all, conducting a good-faith investigation is a good way to keep your organization out of legal trouble. Accordingly, you likely want to have policies and procedures in place to address all sexual harassment claims, including those that you believe to be meritless. 

Retaliation 

Eventually, you may determine that you have an employee who cries wolf. This can be problematic for your company. If you take adverse employment action because an employee exercised his or her right to complain about sexual harassment, you may face a retaliation claim. Therefore, you want to document investigations, coaching, job performance and workplace behaviors carefully. 

If you want to succeed in business, ensuring a healthy and productive workforce must be high on your priority list. By thinking about how to handle both valid and inauthentic discrimination claims before they arise, you position your organization to come out on top.

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