Ask the Experts: Investigating Harassment

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Question: During an exit interview, a departing employee accused one of our managers of harassment. Should we investigate even though the accuser is no longer employed here? The manager has been with us for a long time, and we’ve never heard any complaints about them before.

Your client’s #employee brings up #harassment during an exit interview — what should they do? @RealThinkHR has the answer: Click To Tweet

Answer: Yes, we would recommend investigating the allegations even though the accusing employee has left the organization. If your investigation shows that harassment occurred, we recommend taking disciplinary action as appropriate.

Federal law obligates employers to prevent or stop unlawful harassment. Harassment happens when behavior is unwelcome and based on a protected class such as race, gender, age, religion, national origin, or disability. It becomes unlawful when it is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment. In this case, since you’ve been made aware of alleged sexual harassment, failing to investigate the allegations could invite risk, especially if additional complaints are made against the same individual.

ThinkHR’s Workplace Harassment Prevention gives employers access to state-specific, compliant sexual harassment prevention content, including policies and training courses for managers and employees, in English and Spanish. Request a consultation to add this to your offering!

Kyle Cupp

Kyle Cupp is an HR certified professional author, editor, and researcher specializing in workplace culture, retention strategies, and the employee experience. He has previously worked with book publishers, educational institutions, magazines, news and opinion websites, nationally-known business leaders, and non-profit organizations. His writing has appeared in The Daily Beast, The Week, and elsewhere.

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