Bruce’s Summary: As has been said over and over since 1975 when the U.S. Courts recognized sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination, it’s a violation of the law. It appears the only thing that has changed in roughly forty-one years is that the cost to employers has become more expensive in defending and/or settling such charges.
Three areas touched on by the author are right on mark, first, it all starts at the top, the top sets the tone and tolerance level for everything and always remember, there are no secrets. Human Resource Professionals can talk and present training on harassment and other regulatory required training and get documentation attesting that everyone’s received the training, but if the message among the executive ranks is that it shouldn’t be taken that seriously, this will be the message everyone hears.
The second important issue and at times one of the hardest jobs HR Professionals perform is internal investigations. Especially the investigations where allegations are raised against senior level executives. The logical move is to go outside for these type investigations because quite frankly there is usually a high level of political intrigue, both pro and con, circling around the alleged harasser. Sometimes the well gets poisoned before the investigation is ever started and sides are already drawn. A neutral outside third party remains both neutral and can avoid the political environment.
The third and at times most politically charged, is the remedial action. Oh, the number of discussions when the evidence is clear, but thoughts are, “it can’t be true, not this person”. He/she would never’ do this. This can open a large can of worms along the management credibility line and as is forgotten at times, everyone is watching and as said earlier there are no secrets. “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