One of the worst situations for a company is when an employee brings harassment allegations against another employee. If handled poorly, the company may face penalties and litigation, so most employers err on the side of caution in taking punitive actions. However, if the claim is baseless, that can lead to an even stickier situation.
Between a rock and a hard place
Ideally, the conflicts between employees would be professional disagreements. Perhaps they are personality clashes, and certain people simply don’t work well with each other. However, allegations of harassment change the general calculous.
What follows a harassment allegation should be outlined in your employee handbook. You should have your policies on harassment clear and easily understood. Your first duty is to ensure there is no harassment, and so you must:
- Thoroughly document the allegation
- Take action to remove the possible harasser pending investigation, if appropriate based on the allegations
- Fully and thoroughly investigate the claim
- Take thoughtful final action
At every moment in this investigatory process, you must prioritize the company and the safety of your staff. In many cases, engaging an outside investigator may significantly benefit the company by minimizing the possibility of bias.
Making the right move for the company
When you have investigated the claims thoroughly, you must conclude and take final action. At this point, the decision is up to you. You must decide how you will resolve these claims.
In many cases, your choice here may still lead to litigation from either party. That may be inevitable. However, if you have fully executed an investigation that meets California’s harassment standards, you have gone a long way to protecting your company.
From there, it is simply a matter of finding an advocate for the facts of your case.