APRIL 2018 HR MAGAZINE 65
pool of potential points of contact to
include other managers and leaders.
Consider ofering anonymous
reporting services from an independent third party, similar to the
hotlines public companies provide
If you use an external vehicle,
think about who the complaints
should be routed to internally. It’s
a good idea to have reports sent to
multiple employees, since the grievances could get buried if there is just
a single point of contact.
3. DETAIL WHAT CONSTITUTES
Flesh out what you mean by unac-
ceptable harassment in the work-
place. There are three key points you
should make here:
and social events. Indeed, make
clear that the same rules apply to
events entirely unrelated to the
workplace, such as an employee
pursuing a romantic relationship
with a co-worker by calling him
or her at home.
ā ā The behavior at issue need not
be exhibited by an employee.
Workers can raise concerns about
harassing behavior from custom-
ers, vendors and suppliers.
ā ā Harassment via social media,
e-mail and text messages are all
within the scope of prohibited
conduct. Yes, even a post on an
employee’s private Facebook page
can be cause for corrective action
if it is about co-workers, business
partners or customers, or if those
parties can see it.
4. PROVIDE ROBUST PROTECTION AGAINST RETALIATION
The main reason employees typically
refrain from reporting harassment
is fear of retaliation. The complaint
procedure should set the foundation
for a culture that does not tolerate
reprisal of any kind.
Here are three pieces of advice for
how to achieve that:
investigation and those associated
with the complainant, such as a
ā ā Do more than simply prohibit
such as a discharge.
You should also bar any
material changes to
the terms and condi-
tions of employment
made in response to a
include a change in assignments,
ostracism by other employees and
bad-mouthing an employee in the
ā ā Make sure you spell out, in train-
ing and in investigations, that
even if a complaint lacks legal
merit, it is not OK to engage in
retaliation. The courts are fooded
with cases where employees’ ha-
rassment complaints were initially
dismissed but the judges later
ruled that the ensuing retaliation
claims had sufcient merit to
proceed to trial.
5. TAKE STRONG CORREC TIVE
Communicate that prompt and
proportionate corrective action will
be taken if your company concludes
that an employee or any afliated
client or customer has engaged in
inappropriate conduct, whether or
not the behavior meets the legal
defnition of harassment. For this
statement to have teeth, the corrective action must include discipline
up to and including termination of
employment or another relationship.
The reference to “another relationship” is important because the
wrongdoer may not be the company’s employee.
Some employers go further and
state that the complainant will be
told the nature of any corrective
action taken against the harasser.
Think twice before committing this
to policy, though. Certainly, there
will be instances when you will
want to disclose this information,
but you might not want to lock
yourself in to doing so. Circumstances vary. But your tolerance to
harassment should not.
Jonathan A. Segal is a
partner at Duane Morris in
Philadelphia and New York
City, and a SHRM columnist.
Follow him on Twitter
SILENCE IS NOT GOLDEN
If you have a strong anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure, you
will get more complaints—and that’s a good thing. You don’t want employees suffering in silence. While employees have the right to file external
complaints, most company leaders would prefer to have the opportunity to
investigate and resolve issues internally.
So don’t celebrate a complaint-free year. That could mean that your
anti-harassment policy and complaint procedure are not trusted and thus