What is the proper response to a sexual harassment claim?

If you experience sexual harassment in your Massachusetts’s workplace, you should feel safe in the knowledge that your employer will deal with the issue in a swift and effective manner. Unfortunately, what should happen is not always what does happen.

The Society for Human Resource Management explains how your managers, supervisors and the human resource department should respond to claims of sexual harassment so you can know if your rights have been violated.

Managers and supervisors have the responsibility to take all claims of sexual harassment seriously regardless of how trivial the complaint may seem. Upon receiving a written or formal complaint, your manager must report the incident to HR immediately so that HR can perform a prompt investigation.

Your manager must also take appropriate action to protect you from acts of retaliation or further harassment while the investigation ensues. Failure for your manager or supervisor to respond accordingly is a violation of your rights and may result in disciplinary action against him or her.

Your HR department also has a responsibility to you and other employees to deal with sexual harassment claims swiftly and effectively. Upon receipt of a complaint, HR must ensure that both you and the harasser are aware of the seriousness of the grievance. An HR representative should go over your company’s sexual harassment policy with each of you and explain investigation procedures. If the harassment borders on criminal activity, HR must notify the authorities.

Your HR department may attempt to resolve the dispute informally. However, if that fails, it is responsible for conducting an investigation and preparing a written report. The report should summarize the findings and make recommendations for how company officials should deal with the offender. Finally, HR must notify both you and the respondent of which corrective actions the company plans to take and ensure that the company follows through with said actions.

This article is not meant to serve as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.


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