New Polls in the #MeToo Era Suggest 3 Changes to Human Resources Practices and Investigations

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/new-polls-in-the-metoo-era-3-important-48550/

Bruce’s Summary: Well, we’re more than half way through 2018 and workplace harassment and retaliation allegations are still rolling in and so are the polls on this critical subject. The author does a good job of bringing to our attention several polls including the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s estimate that 90 percent of women who have been harassed never report it. It would appear that with the #MeToo movement bringing this subject to national attention and the EEOC’s directed focus on this matter, the percentage of reported incidents is increasing.
The author focused on three key areas that may help increase awareness and more reporting. The first is more effective and proactive training (on the front end), second, as a result of a number of surveys, it is recommended that employers increase leadership training in specific areas like mentoring and coaching. The third, being accessible and credible investigation procedures (on the back end).
For HR Professionals and small business owners, the author gives a good overview for tweaking their current investigative process. First, focusing on selecting the right internal investigator or accepting the fact that they do not have the right internal talent and focus on using an outside neutral investigative resource. Second, understanding how critical it is in assessing credibility; third, how to deal with a “superstar” respondent; and fourth; staying aware and adapting to new state or federal legislation on harassment.
As we all know in the past for HR Professionals and small business owners one of the biggest challenges was not the fact of getting the message down through the employee ranks but more getting the message to permeate up the executive ladder. It no longer is acceptable for the executive ranks to ignore or not take such allegations seriously. Everyone is watching.
In addition, as more allegations move up the executive ladder, employers must ensure that a clear recognition of neutrality of any investigation is paramount to the individuals involved, work environment and organization. Remember, one clear signal of neutrality of the investigation, especially within the executive ranks, is the use of an outside neutral investigator. “None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com

The First “Me Too” Verdict in New York Should Send a Strong Message to Managers and Employers

https://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/the-first-me-too-verdict-in-new-york-52705/Bruce’s Summary: As I said in January, “Well 2018 is here and workplace harassment and retaliation allegations are still rolling in. It seems the talk is that everyone is still waiting for more workplace harassment and retaliation complaints to surface and surface they will. The tip of the iceberg is glaring and what’s underwater is yet to clearly surface and continue to raise more eyebrows with the shock of who it may be. Today, no one is shielded by the nature of their position, their status or current reputation, as has been seen of late.”
Although the case comes out of New York, the verdict will have a resounding effect. It appears that the jury didn’t find the individual respondent and university guilty of sexual harassment or gender discrimination (as alleged), but both were found to be guilty of retaliation and owed punitive damages totaling $1.25 million in damages.
The author notes that, “However, one key piece of evidence seemed to be a series of emails which Bekaert (Respondent) had written about the plaintiff, where he made very critical comments about Ravina (Plaintiff) and her work.”
The author suggests and provides examples for employers and HR Professionals to use in reviewing their current affected policies, procedures and practices. The message includes addressing inappropriate manager behavior earlier in the process, realization of how negative email and texts can be, empowering bystanders to speak up, consider using outside investigative experts to investigate allegations when necessary, making sure management understands liability for both the corporation and individual mangers, recognize the seriousness a retaliation claim may bring in potential liability and invest in live training for executives.
“None of the information contained herein should be construed as legal advice, nor are Calvin Associates consultants engaged to offer legal advice. If there is a need for legal advice, please contact and seek the advice of independent legal counsel.” www.calvin-associates.com