The very first step you must take when you receive a sexual harassment complaint
Jane just walked into your office crying. Tom just pinched her bottom and she finds it highly offensive. She wants to lay a charge of sexual harassment against him.
And sexual harassment can cost your business millions. Because, if an employee sexually harasses another, she can sue YOU for damages.
There are six steps to follow when an employee tells you she's been sexually harassed.
Let's have a look at the very first one so you don't land up forking over damages…
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Two out of five women in South Africa have been victims of some form of sexual harassment in the workplace!
As their employer, the law requires you to both prevent and deal with sexual harassment complaints in an even-handed manner that protects the alleged victim, while also ensuring that false claims are investigated and dealt with...
And this includes taking the correct procedures when an employee lodges a sexual harassment complaint.
Do you know what procedures to follow when an employee lodges a sexual harassment complaint?
We'll show you how...
The very first thing you need to do when you receive a sexual harassment complaint…
Step#1: Advise the victim on the available procedures.
You must do the following when an employee lodges a grievance of sexual harassment:
- Advise and explain the informal and formal procedures for dealing with sexual harassment to her;
- Explain that she may choose which procedure she wants you to follow; and
- Reassure her that she won't face any adverse consequence for choosing either procedure.
Let's look at these points quickly:
The difference between an informal and formal procedure
Here the employee or a third party will approach the guilty person. As long as the action is actually sexual harassment, they must explain that what he was unwelcome and regarded as sexual harassment and it has to stop. No formal disciplinary action will be taken if the victim's happy with the outcome.
A formal procedure normally leads to a disciplinary inquiry. You can do this with or without first following an informal procedure.
Keep reading about the three possible situations that will arise from this…
Make sure you resolve employee sexual harassment grievances before they turn into major CCMA or Labour Court disputes!
You must deal with grievances as they arise – this includes sexual harassment, if you don't they'll become much bigger problems! You could end up having to defend yourself at the CCMA or the Labour Court if he feels you've done nothing to resolve his problem.
Resolve every grievance as soon as reasonably possible. What is reasonable will depend on the complexity of the issues, but make sure you address them all.
Find the solutions to your employee's sexual harassment and general grievances in the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf, which is part of the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
As part of the invaluable labour advice service, you'll also receive five bonus reports, regular updates, a daily email Bulletin and a labour helpdesk.
Three possible outcomes for the procedures…
i) Your employee first chooses the informal process, but is unhappy with the outcome;
ii) She asks for the formal process to be followed; and
iii) You decide it's inappropriate to follow the informal process, even if she asks for this.
What happens if the employee decides not to pursue her charge?
If the employee decides not to follow a formal procedure, you must still assess the risk of harm to other people in the workplace if formal steps haven't been taken against the perpetrator. You may need to take formal steps even if that isn't what the victim wants.
So, even if the employee has decided to withdraw the complaint, you have a duty to proceed with disciplinary action if, after investigating a complaint of sexual harassment, you find that there are grounds for such allegations and the allegations are of a serious nature. So you aren't tied to the views of the employee to ensure that sexual harassment practices are eradicated in the workplace.
There are another five steps vital to deal with a sexual harassment complaint… We'll give you all these steps and more in the Labour Law for Managers Loose Leaf Service.
Find out more here....
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