How should we handle an incident that is brought to our attention?

The worst thing that an employer can do when learning of a complaint of harassment is nothing at all. While employers may not be able to control every employee’s behaviour at all times, they always have control over how they respond to incidents and whether or not they took quick, decisive action. 

Employers need to have a comprehensive plan in place for dealing with incidents as they arise. These plans should include what the immediate next steps will be as soon as an incident is brought to attention, how to assess what sort of investigation procedure is needed, who will be called in if a third-party investigator is required, how will the complainant be handled during an investigation, and how details will be kept private from colleagues. 

Before taking any rash actions without fully knowing the consequences (i.e: terminating someone’s employment before receiving full details), consult an employment lawyer to make sure that you are taking the appropriate steps. As we wrote about after the Harvey Weinstein scandal broke in 2017, sexual harassment can no longer be seen as a “cost of doing business.”