How Employers Should Deal with Sexual Harassment Claims.
Every day, there are articles splashed across our screens about the Weinstein effect – and, closer to home, about the alleged behaviour of our own TV personalities and public figures. One thing we know is that it’s essential to have an internal process for dealing with sexual harassment claims. These processes help organisations to defend themselves against claims, and implementing them is considered a ‘reasonable step’ to prevent workplace harassment.
What does a ‘good’ internal claims process look like?
- Both sides of the story
A good process lets both parties (the person complaining and the alleged perpetrator) present their side of the story. An impartial adjudicator (such as a complaints officer) should investigate to ensure the process is fair for all people involved.
Any information provided in the complaint should only be disclosed to the parties who need to know it (e.g. to make a decision). Good recordkeeping includes secure information storage – both physically and digitally – which is essential for sensitive information, such as a complaint.
- Accessibility for everyone
It shouldn’t take a person with a minimum double degree to understand the complaints process. If someone finds the process difficult to understand then you should consider changing or simplifying it. If someone has English as a second language, allow them to bring in an interpreter. Workers won’t use a process that’s too complicated or hard to follow.
- Everyone knows what’s going on
From the outset, the person making the complaint should know exactly what’s happening and what’s going to happen, and is kept up to date on their complaint’s progress.
- Get on with it
Once you receive a complaint, you should start investigating immediately. If there are any witnesses, they’ll likely forget the events over time, so you need move quickly while it’s fresh in their minds. Inaction is also bad for morale, as people can interpret it as you not taking the matter seriously.
If you have a process in place, review to ensure it still makes sense and passes the above criteria. If you don’t have a process, consider using the Australian Human Rights Commission’s to set one up now. As they say, prevention is better than cure.
Learning Seat has numerous training courses on sexual harassment, including:
- Compliance Essentials – Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- The S.A.F.E Files – Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Law at Work – Sexual Harassment
- Adaptive Suite – Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
- Compliance Essentials New Zealand – Sexual Harassment.
With locations all around Australia, Learning Seat aims to change workplace behaviour by providing a wide range of training courses for businesses. At Learning Seat, we don’t just provide courses on sexual harassment in the workplace, but also on compliance training, workplace ethics, risk and governance, privacy, and corporate social responsibility – just to name a few.