8 Top Tips for Investigating a Claim of Harassment

Hannah Williamson

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21 Feb 2020

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In cases of harassment you must follow a set process and deal with any harassment complaint quickly, without delay.

Even if you feel that there's no genuine complaint or no substance to a complaint - don't ignore it.

Eight Top Tips

  1. Listen to their concerns: If an employee alleges that they have been harassed, you should deal with their concerns sensitively and sympathetically, reassuring them that their concerns will be investigated thoroughly.
  2. Obtain details: You should meet with the complainant and try to get as much detail as you can from them - such as where, when and how, as well as details of any witnesses. This will enable you to carry out a thorough investigation.
  3. Ask questions: You must have a Q&A session with any witnesses identified. These meetings should take place in private and it is important to keep a detailed record of the conversation.
  4. Approach the perpetrator: You will need to speak to the alleged perpetrator. It's important that you explain to them that the purpose of the Q&A session is not to accuse but to hear their version of events.
  5. Make adjustments: Do the complainant and the alleged perpetrator work together? If so, is it possible for them to be completely separated in order for them to continue working, pending a full investigation? This could mean that you allocate them different shifts. Or you could move the perpetrator to a different location on a temporary basis.
  6. Consider suspension: If you cannot separate the two and if there is a risk of a further incident occurring, you may need to consider suspending the alleged perpetrator on full pay. This should be confirmed in writing.
  7. DO NOT suspend the victim: In this situation you MUST avoid suspending the complainant or requiring them to move to another work location as this could be viewed as victimisation.
  8. Withhold judgement: Avoid making or communicating any judgments before the investigation has been completed.

What if the complaint is unfounded?

If during your investigation it becomes apparent that there is no substance to the complaint - you need to meet with the complainant and explain in a sensitive way your findings.

You should confirm whether any further action is necessary, such as a ‘Clear The Air’ meeting or some sort of mediation. If during the investigation, it becomes apparent that the allegations of harassment are well founded, they should be dealt with in accordance with your business’ disciplinary procedure.

We can help

With unrivalled experience in the industry, Croner’s Employment Law advisors are some of the most renowned and knowledgeable professionals in their respective fields. If you are currently managing a case of this nature and would like guidance from a Croner expert please call 01455 858 132.

About the Author

Hannah Williamson is a CIPD Qualified HR professional with over 10 years’ experience in generalist HR management working within the Manufacturing Industry.

Working for a Global manufacturer provided Hannah with the opportunity to work in America and across Europe supporting HR functions and the wider business.

Hannah is Croner’s Advice Manager, taking responsibility for overseeing the provision of advice to all Croner clients, bringing together our Corporate, Simplify and Association service provisions.

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