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Some Supervisors May Handle Harassment Claims Poorly

F. Michael Ayaz

Some California employers may not be sufficiently prepared to deal with allegations of bullying, discrimination, bias and harassment. According to a report by pelotonRPM, a company that develops workplace training, many leaders and managers are falling short when employees report these issues to them.

The company gathered its data from virtual role-playing scenarios with leaders and managers. It found that more than one-third failed to follow up with questions that might identify whether anyone had witnessed the incident reported. More than half failed to discuss the company’s policy on harassment, discrimination or retaliation. There was no effort to ask questions or repeat and confirm details and facts for 41%, and 30% did not discuss whether there would be an investigation or what the next steps would be. One-quarter failed to say that the matter would go to human resources.

The company’s recommendation was that supervisors should be better prepared with clear guidance as to how to proceed when these complaints are made. They should also be clear about policy, and the CEO should send employees an update on ethics in the workplace twice a year. Other experts have suggested that employees want more modern approaches to training, more personalized training and opportunities for ongoing learning.

Employers should take steps to address potential issues of harassment and discrimination before an employee reports a problem. An attorney may be able to assist an employer in crafting an effective policy that helps protect the employer while also offering a clear path for employees who feel they are facing workplace harassment or discrimination. A company dealing with a report of harassment or discrimination may want to discuss their next steps with an attorney even if it already has a policy in place. If the case does proceed to a lawsuit, an attorney may also be able to help.

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