How to Deal with a Harassment Complaint at Work

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I n the age of social media, a bad review on the Internet can ruin the company’s reputation. A complaint of harassment and discrimination can also lead to ugly workplace tension that can reduce productivity and employee morale. Hence, tactfully dealing with the complaint and mitigating the situation with least possible damage should be your top priority

Here is a step by step guide to deal with a Harassment complaint as an HR Manager

  1. Acknowledge the complaint

The first step in dealing with a harassment complaint is acknowledging the issue that has been raised by the employee. By acknowledging a written complaint, the employee will now be comfortable knowing that a proper investigation process will be followed and necessary actions will be taken against the accused by the employer. Handling a harassment complaint methodically will reduce the chances of the employee taking matters into his/her own hands.

  1. Keep an open mind

A harassment complaint can come as a shock. However, it is important that you keep an open mind and acknowledge the complaint. Acknowledging the complaint and investigating into the matter can help keep up employee morale and save you from losing an employee.

  1. Be respectful and sympathetic

Employees often find it very difficult to complain about sensitive issues like sexual and mental harassment or discrimination at work. Thus, being understanding and sensitive to these complaints can reduce your chances of losing an employee. Insensitive remarks or being apathetic towards the complaints can damage employee morale and eventually affect productivity.

  1. Keep it confidential

It’s best to keep the details of the events confidential .A harassment complaint can polarize your workforce where some employees may support the alleged victim and some may support the accused. Keeping the details of the events confidential can help stop the rumor mill from churning stories and tarnishing the images of the both the parties involved.

  1. Follow the established procedure

Employers are liable to follow the established procedures according to the standing orders under the Industrial Employment Act, 1946 and ensure an investigative committee carries out a detailed investigation with both the parties involved. Interview both the parties involved and take detailed notes of the incident. Be sure to interview any employees who may have witnessed the incident as well to get another perspective.

  1. Take the appropriate measures against the wrong-doers

If the investigation suggests that the harassment and discrimination has occurred, find the appropriate actions to be taken against the wrong doer. Also make sure the necessary precautions are taken to ensure that the incident of harassment does not repeat itself.