Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer Explains Handling Complaints of Harassment at Work
As an experienced Pennsylvania Employment Lawyer, I often get questions from employers as to how they can handle complaints of harassment in the workplace. If you have received a complaint that a co-worker is complaining about another co-workers behavior whether it’s bullying, sexual advances, general unpleasantness, or yelling and screaming in the workplace, the first thing you should do is encourage that individual to report it. That becomes difficult sometimes because they will say, “I didn’t know where to go.” That’s where your employee manual comes into play and the education of your workplace. By education in your workplace, it’s good for you to have meetings that will say, “if this is happening to you, here is your option”. Look in your workbook manual to see what they say is the right way to deal with it. Your obligation as the employer should to have a process. One to investigate, one to discipline the individuals involved, making sure that it stops. Your goal is to get it stopped.
Our Pennsylvania Employment Lawyers advise that your employee manual should set forth the procedure. This deals a lot of times with sexual harassment, bullying in the workplace, or general complaints about harassment. The process is an investigation; you get names, keeping it confidential. You have to interview the individual that’s alleged to have been the victim, and the alleged perpetrator to get their sides of the story to see where it is. A lot of times you are going to hear the story, “Oh, we were just joking around, Oh, that’s just the way we are,. I do that all the time, I talk to other girls like this, I talk to other employees like this.”
You have to establish a baseline as to what is appropriate in the workplace and what is not. Those types of conduct with regard to harassment, bullying, sexual advances, sexual comments, and name calling are unacceptable. Once you’ve conducted your investigation, you then resort to your employee discipline policy, which should be set forth in your manual and say this is how you’re going to deal with this. Depending on the facts and circumstances, that discipline can range from a suspension, a written warning, a verbal warning or could result in termination depending on the seriousness of the allegation.
Are you an employer who has been receiving employee complaints about harassment in the workplace? Contact experienced Philadelphia Employment Lawyer Walter J. Timby for strategic representation.