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When Is a Company Required to Investigate a Harassment Allegation?

Question:

We’ve become aware of an allegation that an employee has been harassed at work, but the employee doesn’t want to file a complaint. Do we need the employee’s consent to investigate a harassment allegation?

Answer:

No. If you or any of your managers become aware that harassment, discrimination, workplace violence, or any other illegal activity has or may have occurred, you are legally required to investigate and take steps to stop the behavior. Knowing about this kind of behavior (and taking insufficient action) can make you liable, so you should investigate a harassment allegation and stop any questionable behavior even if the victim doesn’t want to cooperate.

That said, if the employee merely has a general gripe or complaint that seems to indicate a simple personality conflict, then you may defer to the employee’s wishes on whether to act. Minor conflicts between employees may cause discontent in the workplace, but they don’t obligate you as the employer to investigate and resolve the issue.

THANK YOU to Jenny from our HR Support Center for providing the content for this edition of our Question of the Week.

 

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