We are all seeing the deluge of harassment cases that are being reported in the media. There is a high probability that we may see an increase in harassment claims in our work environments. It is prudent to stay ahead of this and educate / remind managers that dealing with employees must be professional at all times.
One of the most probable times for accusations to occur is in a disciplinary or termination setting. We always advise the employer to have at least two management level staff present in disciplinary/termination meetings. This may seem burdensome, unnecessary, etc. but it is far easier to protect and defend managers from allegations when a witness is present. The witness should sign any documentation proffered in the meeting so we have further proof of their attendance.
Clearly there are cases where the employee and manager may be working at a location where there are no other management personnel present. Simply conferencing in a witness manager or HR staff will suffice. If an individual is included via conference call it should be made known to everyone present at the meeting. The manager present should note on any disciplinary or termination documents the name of the witness and the fact that the witness was present via conference call.
Human Resources and / or Senior Management has a responsibility to investigate harassment claims so when we have multiple first-hand witnesses that can give direct information the process is much easier and more defensible.
Please feel free to share the SMART – HR Tip with anyone that may find benefit.
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