New Member Resource:
Guidelines for Handling an Internal Harassment Complaint and Investigation

By Mary Lynn Fayoumi, CAE, SPHR, GPHR, President & CEO
Published April 18, 2017

Harassment Complaint and Investigation Guidelines

One of the many reasons employers turn to the Management Association for advice and service is our myriad of resources.  With member benefits such as our highly regarded HR Hotline and reliable benchmarking surveys, organizations know that they can rely on our team to provide information and deliver support that helps employers prosper in a competitive and complex environment. Our information resources, including the articles published in this weekly newsletter, receive consistently high ratings. In addition, our website, www.hrsource.org, has a plethora of documents that members access to help effectively navigate their HR challenges. This week, we are adding a new member resource, Guidelines for Handling an Internal Harassment Complaint and Investigation, to our array of helpful tools for employers.

This easily downloadable document, available for members only, was written by our team of staff attorneys in response to requests by members. Although Management Association stands ready to assist in investigations, many of our members choose to have their own staff members handle this critical workplace process. In either situation, this member resource should prove instructive. In addition to providing a thorough overview of applicable law, it includes important information on:

  • Conducting investigation interviews;
  • Asking appropriate questions;
  • Handling the unexpected during the investigation;
  • Drafting the report; and 
  • Making a determination and communicating the outcome.

The release of these helpful guidelines is especially timely given the EEOC’s recent press release regarding a retaliation lawsuit against ABL Management, Inc., a Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based food management company. In this case, an employee was fired several weeks after he complained of sexual harassment. Delner Franklin-Thomas, the EEOC's Birmingham District Director, said “When an employer fires an employee for complaining about sexual harassment, it sends the signal that it’s not safe to resist discrimination.” As the EEOC has repeatedly emphasized, ensuring effective and thorough investigations are conducted when harassment complaints are received is imperative and helps show that the organization takes such issues seriously and does not engage in retaliation.

We hope that you find value in this new member resource. As always, if you have questions please contact us at 800-448-4584 or info@hrsource.org. And, if you require help with an investigation, we are here to provide guidance or hands-on assistance. It is essential that employers handle harassment complaints appropriately and act quickly to determine the correct course of action. Management Association is committed to helping our members stay in compliance and minimize risk.

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