Thursday, September 27, 2018

Don't Lindsey Graham your company's harassment investigations

What am I supposed to do, go ahead and ruin this guy's life based on an accusation? I'm just being honest. Unless there's something more, no, I'm not going to ruin Judge Kavanaugh's life over this. But she should come forward. She should have her say. She will be respectfully treated.
 – Senator Lindsey Graham
He-said/she-said cases of sexual harassment are difficult. You are making a decision that will impact the lives of two (or more) people often based solely on your evaluation of the credibility of the complaining employee, the accused, and witnesses (if any).

There's lots of things you should do when investigating complaints of harassment. Two of the most important steps?

» Interview everyone involved.
» Review all of the relevant documents.

What should you never do?

Predetermine the outcome of the investigation.

Yet, this is exactly what the Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee appear to have done with Judge Brett Kavanaugh.

Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Grassley have all suggested, or outright stated, that the Senate will confirm Brett Kavanaugh, allegations be damned.

A sham investigation is no investigation at all. Indeed, the EEOC cautions that harassment investigators should be "objective, and neutral." If you cannot be objective and neutral, then outsource your investigation. Hire an outside investigator to run the investigation for you. And follow their recommendation.

Employers, do not use the Senate Judiciary Committee's behavior as your guidepost in responding to and investigating harassment investigations in your workplace. If you exhibit behavior that suggests you have prejudged or predetermined the outcome of your internal investigation, you will lose a lawsuit challenging the outcome of that investigation, and it will cost you.

* Photo by Gage Skidmore on flickr