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What To Do When Your Employer Does Not Respond To A Harassment Complaint

What To Do When Your Employer Does Not Respond To A Harassment Complaint

Harassment complaints are one reason employees may feel that their workplace is not a safe and welcoming space. These issues must be addressed by the human resources (HR) department in a prompt manner. Neglected complaints can lead to serious consequences for the company. If your workplace fails to address a harassment complaint, you may want to talk to an attorney. The Atlanta empLoyment lawyers at Hall & Lampros LLC have secured over $400 million in damages for their clients and may be able to assist with your case. Schedule a consultation with our experienced Chattanooga personal injury attorneys by calling 404-876-8100 today.

What Happens When HR Does Not Respond to Complaints

According to the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, certain types of discrimination violate federal laws. Discriminatory practices in this category include discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, pregnancy, and age. Failing to respond to a discrimination harassment complaint or can lead to serious consequences for a management team and the entire company. Some of those ramifications include:

Employee Discontent – Those employees who have filed the complaint may feel disheartened, undervalued, and ignored by management. The resulting drop in morale can lead to decreased productivity, job satisfaction, and morale within the company.

Legal Risks – By failing to properly address harassment complaints, a business could be liable for damages. Such failures on the part of a human resources or management team can often result in costly lawsuits. In addition, there are other points to consider. Once a lawsuit is filed, it may damage the reputation of the company. Even if the lawsuit is ultimately won or settled, the business could find attracting and retaining top talent difficult.

Toxic Work Environment – If chronic problems with employee morale are not resolved, a toxic work environment may result. Environments employees perceive as harassing or discriminatory often see a high turnover rate, regardless of the outcomes of any litigation the employees may pursue. Often, employees leave their current employers because they believe they are not safe at work. According to the United States Department of Labor, businesses have the responsibility to provide a workplace free from discriminatory harassment. If you have filed a complaint with your employer through appropriate channels and they have failed to address your concerns, consider reaching out to our Chattanooga personal injury attorneys at Hall & Lampros, LLP to discuss your legal options.

How Does HR Handle Harassment Complaints?

The human resources department of a well-managed company typically  has an established system for handling any harassment complaint. Standard “best practices” guidelines recommend that HR::

Receive the Complaint – When an employee makes a harassment complaint, the HR department will maintain confidentiality. At this stage, a member of the HR staff will need to document all pertinent information about the incident. Since this is the initial step, the HR department cannot guarantee the outcome of the complaint; rather, this step is about documenting the alleged harassment to proceed to the next stage.

Investigation – After the HR department receives a complaint, the following step is a thorough investigation. Generally, the team will interview the complainant, the accused employee or employees, and any witnesses. If there is any tangible evidence, such as emails or photographs, that may be collected and analyzed as well.

Resolution – Based on the discrimination investigation’s results, the HR team will take appropriate action to resolve the issue. If the accused employee is found to be guilty of the infraction, it could lead to:

  • Disciplinary measures
  • Additional training
  • Mediation
  • Dismissal

Follow-Up – Once the issue is resolved, many HR departments will follow up with the complainant. At this point, ensuring all employees feel safe and supported by the company is important.

Prevention – The HR team will need to review current policies to prevent future incidents. Sometimes, that may mean training employees and managers in harassment prevention and reporting.

Can a Manager Be Fired for Not Reporting Harassment?

Yes, a manager can be fired for not reporting harassment. When they fail to report violations of company policies or legal requirements, their lapses can lead to serious legal and practical difficulties for the company. Reporting harassment is part of a manager’s responsibility to ensure a safe and respectful workplace for everyone. Failure to fulfill this responsibility may imply negligence or complicity in the harassment. In those instances, the manager could face disciplinary action, including termination.

Three Steps To Take When Responding to a Harassment Complaint

Every harassment complaint should be handled in the same manner to ensure fairness to all employees and a thorough investigation. When an employee makes a complaint, the HR department will need to take the following three measures:

Listen and Support – When an employee comes forward with a harassment complaint, HR needs to listen attentively and gather as much information about the incident as possible. Part of creating a safe space is to provide emotional support to the employee. Making employees feel heard and valued can help them recover from the situation. Also, it is important to maintain confidentiality throughout the process.

Investigate Thoroughly – Once the incident details are recorded, the department must conduct a prompt and thorough investigation. During this time, HR will need to gather evidence of the incident. They will also need to interview all relevant parties. At this point, the investigators must remain objective and impartial to find the facts of the case.

Take Appropriate Action – If the investigation showed that wrongdoing occurred, the HR department needs to take appropriate action. Often, that involves:

  • Disciplinary measures
  • Counseling
  • Training
  • Mediation

Reach Out to Our Atlanta Employment Attorneys

When HR does not respond to a harassment complaint, it can lead to negative consequences throughout the workplace. The Chattanooga employment lawyers at Hall & Lampros, LLC may be able to assist if your employer fails to address your harassment complaint. Schedule a consultation by calling 404-876-8100.

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