Recently we were involved with an employee claim regarding anti harassment and the HR and hiring manager were really struggling in that the supervisor who was accused of the harassing had been an exemplary employee for the past 15 years. Here’s what we shared to help the process move along as needed:
* While it’s totally understandable to want to treat the supervisor differently because he is such a good employee, when it comes to claims of this nature, following past protocol and the company’s procedures is paramount. It would be very difficult to defend the logic behind different treatment based on the organization’s view of a particular individual.
* Speaking of procedures, be sure to document and file both the process being followed and all statements shared either through email or during interviews. As one of my favorite mentors once shared a long time ago: “she who has the best documentation, wins.” Too many times in our experience, the file on any given claim is incomplete and/or filled with conjecture and opinion instead of fact and first hand observation. So when you build the file, make sure you look at it through the lens of opposing counsel to ensure it’s complete and accurate.
* Lastly, adhere to what’s required by either your Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) or regulatory law. Most CBA’s include what exactly the employer is obligated to do in terms of the unit employees rights throughout the investigation and communications to the union itself. Like many employer related policies of late, make sure your Anti Harassment Policy is updated according to any changes at either the federal or state level. California Employers were required to make a number of updates this past April and other states are following suit.
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