The decisions in several court cases have outlined what’s considered an adequate – and legal – response by employers to complaints about harassment.
To test your knowledge of how to respond to such complaints, respond True or False to the following:
1. To fully satisfy an employee who’s lodged a complaint of harassment, you can award the employee a bonus, pay raise or promotion.
2. Courts have deemed that supervisors can settle a complaint by transferring an alleged offender to a position in which there’s no contact with the employee who filed the complaint.
3. When an employee complains about harassment but doesn’t demand that action be taken against the alleged offender, an employer still must investigate the charge and discipline appropriately if the facts support the charge.
1. False. While courts don’t prohibit such awards, they cannot be considered as full satisfaction for a complaint. Employers still must investigate the complaint and act on it accordingly.
2. False. Just transferring an alleged offender is rarely a good idea. Consider the obvious danger: If the transferred employee harasses another victim, the employer could be charged with concealing knowledge of a preexisting problem.
Note: A transfer can be an interim step, to prevent contact while the investigation is taking place.
3. True. Having knowledge of a reasonable allegation of harassment obligates an employer to follow the investigative process and follow through with discipline, if warranted. Tip: From the start, inform employees who complain that you’re obligated to fully investigate the complaint.