What should you do if an employee complains of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a broad term that includes so many different scenarios. Characteristically, sexual harassment involves unwanted or inappropriate verbal comments or physical touches. These actions can occur anywhere and are not restricted to any role or gender.

Determining whether sexual harassment has been committed may be difficult, so when it happens in the workplace, you might wonder what to do. Sexual harassment is a serious offense and should be taken as such.

Take all complaints seriously

If an employee complains of sexual harassment, it’s essential to take appropriate steps. Take all complaints seriously, even if the employee says they don’t want anyone to know about it. There are several reasons why an employee might not want to escalate the allegations, including:

  • Worry of rumors or gossip
  • Concern that the information will get back to the offender
  • They might fear retaliation from the complaint

The fact of the matter is the complaint can’t stop at the verbalization of the issue. Failure to do anything at all could put the employee in further harm and even jeopardize your company.

Things you can do

Sexual harassment that is left unaddressed can lead to a hostile work environment. If left unaddressed, it can cause tension in the office setting and divide the employees if rumors start. Instead of leaving the issue unresolved, you can:

  • Inform HR immediately
  • Try to keep all parties confidential
  • Familiarize yourself with the company policy
  • Start an investigation through the appropriate channels

You want a safe work environment for all of your employees. When someone makes a complaint of sexual harassment, even an informal one, it’s essential to take it seriously. If your workplace has experienced sexual harassment, you may want to learn more about employment laws to protect your legal rights


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