Media Employment Attorney Explains Harassment in the Workplace
As a dedicated Media Employment Attorney, I get questions all time from clients about harassment in the workplace. Harassment in the workplace in Pennsylvania is a very serious condition. It can take place in a number of different ways. It can be based on gender, age, a particular bullying conduct, and it takes many forms. It can also be in terms of the way in which some individual is treated as to whether they are being bullied or believe they are being bullied. The best way for you as an employer to deal with these particular issues is to have a process and the process should be laid out in your particular handbook and known to all of the individuals in your company as to what to do in this particular situation. That is, you have to encourage the employees, educate them as to the process of reporting the harassment.
As a experienced Media Employment Attorney, I would say a lot of the time the employee will say, “I’m afraid because it came from a supervisor. I’m afraid because it may affect my job.” The two factors involved in that are, one you want to encourage them to do so because you want the conduct to stop and you don’t want the conduct to get worse where it ends up in litigation where that employees says you didn’t do anything about this conduct and you knew about the conduct. What you should establish is a process where it is one confidential and two it’s reported to somebody who is not involved in the harassment. This can be difficult when the individual is a supervisor or the owner of the company. What you have to do is establish a process that says this individual who I deem to be neutral, it could be your HR representative or could be somebody else who has some involvement with employees, a supervisor of some kind that says I can go to them on a confidential basis and say to them, “Joe is harassing me.”
It could be bullying conduct, sexual harassment in the terms of the way in which they speak to them, inappropriate approaches to them with regard to requests, or can just be statements. That reporting process then takes a separate course of action. It becomes an obligation to investigate it, which means that one it’s confidential and two you investigate it by talking to the one who makes the complaint and then any witnesses that individual says who also knows about this. They overheard it, saw it or anything of that nature that would support the claim. Once you’ve done the investigation, and the key from your point of view is to document the investigation in a separate file and say I’ve investigated it and I’ve found from this investigation that the merits are true. As a result of this, I then have to take some steps to discipline that employee.
If you fail to do so, you’re going to be subject to further litigation by that employee. What he or she is going to say is you’ve made my workplace uncomfortable. I cannot come to work on a daily basis. I am emotionally upset and I am going to see my psychologist or my doctor because I’ve had certain symptoms associated with this and I really can’t come to work anymore. If that’s the case, they’re going to make a claim that says you should pay them for when they can’t work. At that point in time, you want to make sure that you’ve got a remedy that deals with the offender and a remedy that deals with the individual that’s been hurt. It’s in your best interest to do this because once somebody gets bullied or harassed, it spreads through the workplace and everybody knows about it and how they’re being treated. It makes for an unhappy workplace. Deal with it. It’s sometimes unpleasant. The best thing to do is have a procedure, report it, deal with it, and take care of it.
If you have any questions about how handle harassment complaints in the workplace, please contact our Media Employment Attorneys for a free case evaluation.
This educational blog was brought to you by experienced Employment Attorney Walter J. Timby. Our law firm proudly represents clients throughout Media, as well as Pennsylvania, the greater Philadelphia area, and New Jersey.