Three Common Mistakes Companies Make when Responding to Sexual Harassment Allegations by Employees
The past few months have been an eye-opening moment in American culture. Decades of sexual harassment and abuse have been brought to light, and these revelations show no sign of slowing down as attitudes toward this behavior become less tolerant. Most Illinois employers want their employees to feel safe and protected against threatening or harassing behavior by coworkers or supervisors. Nevertheless, companies often bungle responses to worker claims of harassment, and a lacking response to such claims could spell the difference between a quiet resolution and a highly public lawsuit. Read on to learn about common mistakes Illinois companies make when responding to sexual harassment claims, and contact a knowledgeable Chicago area employment lawyer for additional help.
1. Failing to respond to the complaint quickly with a thorough investigation
If you’ve recently received a complaint against one of your workers, you may feel blindsided and unsure of how to proceed. This confusion may read as apathy to the employee who filed the complaint. If an employee feels like you’re not treating their complaint with the seriousness it deserves, they may feel that their only recourse is to file a lawsuit based on their claims. Make sure that the employee knows that their complaint is important to you, and that you take action on the complaint as soon as possible.
2. Failing to take appropriate corrective measures once a complaint has been confirmed
If your investigation into a complaint confirms that an incident of harassment occurred, following through is just as important as the investigation itself. Your organization needs to be prepared to impose appropriate consequences on the perpetrator, and not a mere slap on the wrist. This shows both the original complaining employee and the remainder of your workforce that these acts are unacceptable to leadership and will not be tolerated.
3. Failing to retain an attorney experienced in handling sexual harassment allegations
Sexual harassment claims can be extremely damaging to a company’s reputation, especially if it becomes public that the company did little to acknowledge and respond to harassment once it was brought to the attention of corporate leadership. You can reduce the impact of these incidents by relying on the guidance of an attorney with experience in responding to and resolving such claims. Consulting with an attorney early in the process, rather than only after a lawsuit has been filed, can protect your organization from becoming the subject of legal action.
If your organization is facing claims of harassment and you’re in need of skilled legal help in the Chicago area in responding to these claims, contact the business and employment attorneys at Pluymert, MacDonald, Hargrove & Lee for a consultation, in Hoffman Estates at 847-310-0025, and in Des Plaines at 847-298-5030.