When you receive a sexual harassment complaint from one or more employees, it's tempting to launch an internal investigation into the matter. Depending on the seriousness of the allegations, the people involved, and the number of complaints, it may be better to have the matter investigated by an outside party. Here are two reasons why you should consider this option:
Avoid Tainting the Investigation with Bias
One of the top reasons you should have a third party investigate sexual harassment claims made by employees is to avoid introducing bias into the inquiry. Your workers and supervisors are around each other for at least 40 hours a week. Some will form friendships, some will acquire arch enemies, and all will develop opinions of each other.
Thus, there is a high probability that an investigator's feelings towards the accuser or the accused may unintentionally influence his or her actions. For instance, one common excuse people make for sexual harasser is that they're socially awkward. Someone who is on friendly terms with the harasser may write off the person's behavior as a misunderstanding and try to convince the accuser he or she is making a bigger deal of the situation than it really is. This can make it appear as though the company is trying to sweep the issue under the rug and you may get sued as a result.
An outside party won't have a relationship with anyone at your company. Therefore, the investigator can maintain a neutral stance and uncover the truth, whatever it may be. Having a neutral party handle the situation may also make others more comfortable coming forward with information since they don't have to fear office politics getting mixed into the situation.
Ensure Accurate Documentation
Another reason to have a third party investigator look into sexual harassment allegations is to ensure the case is accurately documented. A third-party investigator will typically have experience evaluating these types of cases and knows what kind of evidence is needed, how to preserve it, and what type of documentation is needed to protect all parties involved. If a lawsuit does result from the allegations, you can be sure you'll have all the information needed to defend against it.
Although your internal HR staff may be competent, they may not fully understand or appreciate how to document the case. Additionally, as noted previously, they may be harboring biases that could influence the quality of their documentation and evidence preservation, leading to problems down the line.
To learn more about why a neutral third-party may be a better option for investigating sexual harassment claims or for more advice on other HR matters, contact an hr consulting service.Share
29 November 2017
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