In the ever-evolving landscape of employment, one stark reality remains constant: workplace harassment persists as a deeply troubling issue. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), they received 98,411 charges between FY 2018 and FY 2021, alleging harassment under any basis and 27,291 charges alleging sexual harassment Further, in an AllVoices survey dated September 2021, 44% of the people surveyed said they experienced work-related harassment (sexual, bullying, discriminatory harassment and bias).
In the wake of the “Me Too” movement of 2017 which put a spotlight on sexual harassment, these numbers continue to demand our attention and action.
As an employer, are you equipped to address this pressing issue effectively? In this article, we delve into the critical importance of handling harassment claims appropriately, the substantial financial stakes involved, and the pivotal role that third-party investigators, like HumCap, play in maintaining a safe, inclusive, and legally compliant workplace. Read on as we uncover the critical nuances of managing harassment claims and discover why a swift, unbiased resolution is not just a best practice but an absolute necessity for today’s employers.
The Federal Government requires employers with 15 or more employees to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) of 1990 – Employers with 20 or more employees must also comply with the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 and provide employees with a written anti-harassment policy.
Harassment in definition is a form of employment discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, (ADA).
Managing any harassment claim takes experience, precision, speed, and a consistent, unbiased approach. The cost of mishandling a claim can be devastating to employers. The Federal Government has established guidelines on Compensatory and Punitive Damages based on an employer’s size ranging from $50K – $300K. Further, according to a 2022 EEOC report, the agency recovered $299.8 million for 8,147 individuals with sexual harassment claims through resolved charge receipts and litigation between 2018 and 2021. Drew Mierva, Practice Leader of HumCap HR Consulting said, “Employers typically launch an investigation themselves with internal resources – however, they often lack the experience and careful discipline needed to separate themselves from the parties involved.” She added, “We recommend companies outsource investigation to a 3rd party consultant like HumCap to maintain impartiality and to send a message to employees that the employer is sincerely concerned for the wellbeing and safety of all employees and have a sense of urgency for a quick and impartial resolution to the complaint.”
Drew emphasized, “When HumCap is engaged at the onset of a claim, we are generally able to complete the investigation and present findings within a few days. Employer-led investigations consistently take longer, and investigators struggle to stay unbiased.”
History demonstrates that the longer an investigation drags on, the higher the potential for secondary issues to emerge including retaliation, low morale, absenteeism, turnover, etc., increasing negative impacts to employees, customers, and the business.
Alternatively, when employees see an employer respond quickly and decisively and are wholeheartedly committed to having a harassment-free environment, future problems can be avoided when all parties feel that they have been heard and believe consequences, if warranted, are based on facts and are fair.
While all efforts are made to avoid litigation, if it does occur, third-party investigators ensure employers are well armed with the documentation and evidence needed to defend their decision and demonstrate they acted fairly, swiftly, and consistently in alignment with company policies and federal regulations.