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Investigating a Harassment Complaint

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All complaints of sexual or other harassment must be investigated. However, the extent and method of the investigation may vary from complaint to complaint, just as the nature of each complaint may vary. The supervisor or designated personnel should promptly respond to complaints brought under the harassment policy by thoroughly investigating them to determine if violations of the policy have occurred and taking prompt, appropriate remedial action to enforce the policy.

Whoever does the investigation, however, should include these steps:

* Review the complaint to make sure it is understood. If additional information is required, request that the person making the complaint give as much of the necessary additional information as they can. It may help to ask them to answer specific, written questions.

* Conduct confidential interviews of the victim to go over the complaint, of the alleged harasser to obtain their side of the story, and of any witnesses identified by either the victim or the harasser.

* Obtain sufficient information from available sources to enable a conclusion to be made. The conclusion is whether or not sexual harassment occurred.

* When the information has been collected, analyze it, ask for such assistance and advice from appropriate professionals as necessary (ie. attorneys, doctors, private investigators, etc.), and make a conclusion. Answer the question about whether the harassment occurred. This is not a criminal investigation and it does not have to support a criminal case. It is, instead, an internal investigation designed to make an internal and confidential investigation designed to make an internal decision about specific employees.