Workplace Harassment: Best Practices When Handling a Harassment Complaint

Workplace Harassment: Best Practices When Handling a Harassment Complaint

Recent years have seen activist movements such as “Me Too”, “Times Up”, and “Black Lives Matter” drive a positive paradigm shift. More and more people are standing up for their rights to live and work with dignity. This means that the businesses that take a workplace harassment complaint seriously shine brightly as contemporary leaders in their fields—while the businesses that don’t risk losing their relevance to consumers and potential recruits alike.

If you’re here, then the chances are that you’re striving to secure your organization’s footing firmly within the first of those two camps. An essential port of call at the beginning of this journey is establishing a powerful anti-harassment policy, with crystal clear protocols to support it. Today we’re going to be discussing the best practices to incorporate when dealing with a harassment claim. Don’t forget, every harassment complaint poses a major risk to your organization, so—whether navigating a report of workplace bullying, discrimination, or sexual misconduct—attention to detail is vital.

Establishing a Complaints Procedure

Did you know that more than 50% of the filings that arrive with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission each year are retaliation complaints? Well, you do now—so it’s time to make sure that your complaints procedure is action-ready. Consistency is vital when handling workplace harassment complaints, so having a polished procedural roadmap to hand will be invaluable.

This protocol should be tailored to your organization’s size, resources, culture, and mandate. If you’re reading this article because a workplace harassment complaint is already on your desk—but there’s no up-to-date and established procedure to speak of—then consider this the perfect opportunity to create one that is iron-clad. Your complaints procedure should cover:

  • Outlining your organization’s anti-harassment policies
  • Handling all complaints with seriousness and professionalism
  • Acting quickly, while memories and evidence are fresh
  • Considering if protective steps are required on behalf of the complainant
  • Documentation resources and instructions
  • Interview procedures and order of interviews
  • The importance of an investigation timeline
  • Communication protocols—such as leadership immediately informing HR
  • The need to remain neutral to all parties
  • Whether managers, HR, or external investigators will take the lead
  • Maintaining confidentiality of all parties as far as possible
  • Making employees aware of their right to complain and who they can speak to
  • PR protocols if the harassment complaint goes public

When a Complaint Has Been Received

When an accusation of workplace harassment has been made, time is of the essence. That said, every step taken should be with legal scrutiny in mind, so begin by efficiently making a plan of action and drawing necessary resources together. With legality and justice prioritized, the importance of documentation cannot be overstated.

All interviews and evidence gathered should be carefully documented and dated. It’s also vital to be aware that any written communication—such as emails—may also later become evidence if litigation follows. As such, caution, discretion, neutral language, and sticking to the known facts will serve you well.

Safeguarding Your Organization’s Integrity

Beyond the need to protect your employees and ensure their well-being at work, it is also vital to protect your organization—both in terms of reputation and financial risk. All actions taken and conclusions draw must reflect a thorough and indiscriminate process. A robust approach for businesses aiming to ensure that they will not later be accused of bias is bringing in an external investigator. This type of specialist will be ready to support navigating any workplace harassment complaint with impeccable practice.

A seasoned corporate investigator from Lauth Investigations international will take the lead on your workplace investigation, lifting the associated stress from your team’s shoulders. By turning to their trusted services, you will be able to enjoy absolute confidence in the protocols followed, the quality of documentation, the capacity to stand up to legal scrutiny, and ultimately the conclusions drawn. This can alleviate what would otherwise be a logistical challenge and substantial burden on your HR team.

We offer both comprehensive support for handling harassment complaints, and Corporate Culture Audits—helping you ensure that your workplace is toxic only to misconduct! If you are ready to learn more, contact our team to discuss your needs.

Workplace Harassment: What Are the Impacts?

Workplace Harassment: What Are the Impacts?

Anyone who has ever been the victim of any kind of bullying or harassment knows that it can leave a person’s world turned upside down. For businesses getting to grips with how to minimize the risks of workplace harassment, it can be motivating to understand the far-reaching ramifications of these issues—from stalling team performance to broken brand reputation, and from dwindling profits through to swelling legal costs.

In truth, workplace bullying, discrimination, and sexual harassment create toxic work environments. They can have a crippling effect on the well-being and performance of many more employees than the victim or victims alone. Read on to discover the many pervasive impacts that these types of misconduct can have, before getting serious about upping your game in its prevention!

A Risk to Health and Well-being

Being a victim of workplace harassment—or even simply witnessing it—can generate problems that your employees carry all day at the office, and back home with them at the end of the working day. These impacts can be both psychological and physical, such as:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach ulcers
  • High blood pressure

When Performance Suffers Along With the Victim

It’s hardly surprising that when employees are grappling with these kinds of pressures, their work performance will also take a hit. Be aware that symptoms of workplace harassment can manifest detrimentally on employee productivity:

  • Victims and witnesses may struggle to concentrate
  • Victims may lose self-esteem
  • Victims and witnesses may have trouble with decision-making
  • Victims and witnesses may avoid excelling in order to avoid attention
  • Victims and witnesses may be reluctant to enter communal settings
  • Harassers may also underperform while distracted by their misconduct

Is Your Business Dropping the Ball?

Contemporary employers understand that happy employees are engaged employees—and minimizing the risk of workplace bullying, sexual harassment, and all forms of discrimination, is an important element of ensuring that teams remain at their most energized. However, the risk to companies that drop the ball on workplace harassment extend far further than productivity losses alone:

  • Increased sick leave, rehabilitation, and health insurance costs
  • Pervasive absenteeism
  • Rapid turnover and associated recruitment and training costs
  • Reputational damage that impacts both recruitment and sales
  • Legal costs and risk of workers’ compensation claims
  • Eroded workplace culture making theft and other corporate crimes more likely

Turn the Tide With Corporate Investigations and Corporate Culture Audits

When someone makes a workplace harassment complaint, you can quickly and efficiently bring in a skilled investigator, reveal the truth of the matter, and get things back on track. However, what if this kind of misconduct is taking place under the radar? No employer is all-seeing and all-knowing. This makes a Corporate Culture Audit an immensely valuable resource to have in your toolkit.

This wellness check-up for your organization will take the lid off any and all issues that may be impacting your path towards prosperity—from workplace harassment to organizational silos, and many more besides. Lauth Investigations International draws on decades of experience within the corporate field, helping businesses forge a route towards excellence through effective investigative services. Learn more about Corporate Culture Audits, or contact our team today to discuss how we can support you best.

Workplace Harassment: Do You Know the Signs?

Workplace Harassment: Do You Know the Signs?

It might be easy to think, “that would never happen in my business,” but workplace harassment is an issue that traverses all industries, all working environments, and all sizes of organization. Ranging from workplace bullying, to sexual harassment, through to outright discrimination, this particular problem can be one of many faces, and the signs aren’t always obvious. Would you know which indicators to look out for?

But surely, if workplace harassment took place on your premises or within the teams under your command, someone would speak up—right? Sadly, research indicates that 75% of incidents go unreported. With these factors in mind, it is crucial to be familiar with a spectrum of signs that could let you know that a hostile workplace environment is beginning to take hold. So let’s dig into the facts. Read on as we reveal the red flags that can serve as signals that workplace harassment may be taking place, and what you can do about it.

What Is Workplace Harassment?

Because verbal and psychological workplace harassment don’t leave a mark or a trail, victims often feel uncomfortable and confused about whether reporting their experiences is a good idea, or even afraid of retaliation if they do. Of course, that fear becomes all the more palpable when physical or sexual harassment are taking place.

In terms of who may be impacted—or who may be the harasser—it’s important to remember that this type of interaction is not always relegated to superior/subordinate working relationships. Workplace harassment may cross teams, with the harasser working in a role above, below, or even unconnected to the victim. Particular forms of misconduct could include slurs, name-calling, offensive jokes, intimidation, insults, ridicule, or work disruption—and these may take place in person, or within the digital realm, otherwise known as “cyber bullying.”

The reality is that all forms of of workplace harassment are not only illegal, but also guaranteed to leave a sizable hole in your bottom line. When any form of harassment at work is tolerated, you can anticipate a drop in productivity and a surge in turnover as employees’ sense of safety and camaraderie is eroded. Not to mention, the very real risk of litigation will also be looming.

What Are the Signs of Workplace Harassment?

The most obvious indicator that some form of workplace bullying, discrimination, or sexual harassment may be taking place is of course a complaint. These should always be followed by immediate and strategic corporate investigations. However, when incidents go unreported, you can safeguard employees by remaining alert to the following signs:

  • Behavioral Changes
    If you notice a sudden change in an employee’s behavior—perhaps with them becoming more withdrawn and avoidant of corporate events or meetings—then a check-in is advisable.
  • Performance Changes
    An employee who starts missing deadlines, struggling to focus, or performing to a lower standard may be struggling with the burden of workplace harassment.
  • Atmosphere Changes
    While only one individual may be the direct victim of workplace harassment, the rest of your team may also be bearing the brunt of its occurrence. A disintegration in communication, rising tensions, and higher turnover may all be red flags.
  • Attendance Changes
    The experience of being harassed or witnessing harassment can be both stressful and traumatizing. This may lead a once-punctual employee to begin arriving late, missing important events, or increasingly calling in sick.

Corporate Investigation Services: Spotlighting the Truth of Your Suspicions

Workplace harassment is a sensitive issue that, when handled poorly, can have substantial legal ramifications for any business or organization. If you have received a complaint of workplace harassment or suspect that an incident may have taken place, turn to Lauth Investigations International for assistance. Our specialist corporate investigators offer expertise in revealing the truth through diligent, documented, and legally sound workplace investigations.
If you are concerned that a larger pattern of misconduct or poor corporate culture may be evolving within your team, take proactive action with a Corporate Culture Audit. This health-check for your business will paint a clear picture of the current landscape, and deliver a clear roadmap for how to create an environment where workplace harassment is not welcome, and employees can flourish and succeed. Contact our team today to learn more.

What You Need to Know About Sexual Misconduct Investigations in the Workplace

What You Need to Know About Sexual Misconduct Investigations in the Workplace

sexual harassment in the workplace

We all like to think that every one of our employees or co-workers is guided by a strong moral compass and is conducting themselves accordingly. In some instances, we might even imagine that a little office banter with sexual undertones is harmless, but the reality is that when no clear line is drawn on what constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace, a slippery slope is often established in its place.

Sexual misconduct of any kind can lead to pervasive distress, loss of productivity, and ultimately loss of talent—as a toxic working environment leads precious innovators to look for healthier work environments elsewhere. Employers should also recognize that receiving one sexual harassment complaint may mean gaining oversight on what is ultimately only the tip of the iceberg.

The reality is that while 81% of women have experienced some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime, 58% of those who were harassed at work don’t file a complaint for fear of factors such as retaliation or disbelief. According to data gathered confidentially by Stop Street Harassment, as many of 43% of men have also experienced some sort of sexual harassment—so there’s no escaping that this is a problem that can impact anyone, and is ultimately one that we often don’t get a true sense of.

When it comes to receiving a formal complaint and gearing up ahead of investigating sexual harassment or sexual misconduct in the workplace, there’s a lot to navigate. On behalf of both the victim and the alleged perpetrator, responsibility in regard to physical and mental health, privacy, and legal rights all land in the hand of the employer. Meanwhile, for the organization itself, risk of retaliation, liability, and reputational damage hang in the balance. That makes what happens next something that must ready to stand up to scrutiny.

Turn to Corporate Investigations Services When Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

With so much at stake, investigating sexual harassment or misconduct means building a case that cannot be left open to any perception of bias. If a complaint should evolve towards litigation, an employer’s failure to fully undertake and document an impartial corporate investigation, or it’s failure to act decisively upon any complaint received may well end in liability. Information gathered might later become admissible in court proceedings, while a poorly judged step may damage the credibility of evidence. This makes turning to an external investigator the best way to safeguard the interests of both the organization and the individuals involved.

Hiring a private investigator with a proven track record for corporate investigations of this nature also means lifting the emotional burden of investigating a colleague—under what may be distressing circumstances—from your HR or leadership team. A professional who is seasoned at investigating sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace will not only be adept at discreetly and efficiently gathering the information necessary, but they will also be able to advise on every investigatory and reporting step from a legal standpoint, guaranteeing due process and exemplary action along the way.

The Opportunity to Be an Industry Leader in the Prevention of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

While the occurrence of a sexual misconduct complaint may well leave any organization anxious about what lies ahead, choosing to step ahead of this issue is an action that can only be rewarded. Since the #metoo movement arrived, attitudes towards sexual harassment in the workplace have evolved, with 99% of employees successfully recognizing sexual harassment situations, and the vast majority supporting the fight against this type of workplace misconduct.

While this new era has created an environment in which many feel more able to speak up, statistics tell us that it is also in fact driving down incidents of sexual harassment in the workplace, with EEOC actually reporting a drop from 2020 to 2021. This tells us that setting clear policies and demonstrating a safe environment for employees is a worthy pursuit. Of course, this is a transformation still in its inception—HRAcuity reports that only 15% of companies are on the case. Are you ready to establish your brand as one who lives by values that everyone can believe in?

Alongside outlining clear and easily understood company policies and delivering training across every employee tear, organizations are increasingly turning to corporate culture audits as a health-check for issues ranging from sexual harassment to discrimination, and even corporate theft and white collar crime.
Taking this proactive step means getting ahead of problems before they manifest into costly or damaging incidents that warrant corporate investigations, litigation, or substantial losses. Better yet, it means forging and sustaining a thriving workplace environment in which employees can grow, flourish, and drive the bottom line. If you’d like to learn more about corporate investigation services in relation to sexual harassment in the workplace—or the phenomenal results that corporate culture audits can yield—the team at Lauth Investigations are ready to take your call.

Why You Should Hire a Private Investigator to Help Navigate Potential Workplace Discrimination

Why You Should Hire a Private Investigator to Help Navigate Potential Workplace Discrimination

From our base in the heart of central Indiana, members of the Lauth Investigations team periodically find ourselves heading out to support a diversity of corporate entities as they navigate a workplace discrimination investigation. For any business owner – be their enterprise small of vast – the idea that workplace discrimination might be festering is a dreaded one indeed. Under such circumstances, our dedicated private investigators are poised to help.

We all want to know that our employees feel valued and welcome, and that HR compliance is ever top-notch. However, despite the best of intentions, getting caught out by a workplace discrimination complaint is not uncommon. In these moments, what truly matters is navigating the necessary investigation that follows with diligence and integrity. Expert private investigators can provide just the skills and experience required to ensure that your investigative process doesn’t miss a beat, that justice is done, and that the reputation of your business is upheld.

The Many Forms and Faces of Workplace Discrimination

Working to help organizations in Indianapolis and further afield ensure best propriety practices, we do sadly encounter discriminatory behavior in many different forms. Fundamentally, workplace discrimination means curtailing career opportunities or negatively impacting the professional life of an employee or colleague based on their color, race, religion, national origin, age, sex, handicap, or marital status. While some workplace discrimination may be very much intentional, at other times, perpetrators may even be unaware that they are acting inappropriately or breaching conduct protocols.

Whether innocent or not, workplace discrimination can fall foul of both Federal and State employment and labor laws, meaning that consequences can be serious for perpetrators and their superiors alike. When driven by discriminatory factors, what might workplace discrimination actually look like? An individual being discriminated against may find themselves at a disadvantage in terms of salary, professional opportunities, or working conditions. They may experience harassment or victimization, and may be denied legally protected rights or be subjected to retaliation if they complain.

Remaining alert to indicators of workplace discrimination is vital for any organization, as is understanding the letter of the law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects all individuals against workplace discrimination on the basis of religion, sex, national origin, race, or color. The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 safeguards the rights of individuals with disabilities, while the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967

protects those over the age of 40 from age-related discrimination.

Advantages in the Decision to Hire a Private Investigator

Because of the gravity of workplace discrimination complaints, the decision to hire a private investigator can offer a multitude of protections and assurances. Self-conducting internal investigations of this nature can put a heavy strain on those who work alongside both the complainant and accused. This can lead to emotional fallout, a negative impact on team performance, and difficulty in ensuring the impartiality of conclusions drawn.

In contrast, an experienced investigator, seasoned in meticulously gathering evidence and questioning all parties with care and neutrality, can help to provide peace of mind to all who surround a workplace discrimination investigation. They can ensure the integrity of the investigation – offering guidance that will stand up to legal scrutiny, and even providing court testimony should the need arise.

For an employer of any scale, taking a clear and moral stance while demonstrating the capacity to conduct fair investigations is always a prudent move. Contemporary consumers and professionals alike look first to businesses who are forward thinking, with compassion evident as a core value. While a workplace discrimination complaint may seem like the worst that could happen, any opportunity – no matter how challenging – to elevate the way a business operates will ultimately prove valuable. The Corporate Investigations team at Lauth HQ in Indianapolis are ready to serve those in central Indiana and far beyond. Contact us to learn more about how we can assist today.

Indianapolis Private Investigator Firm Helps Businesses Take The Lead On Workplace Harassment

Indianapolis Private Investigator Firm Helps Businesses Take The Lead On Workplace Harassment

From HQ in Indianapolis, Indiana, Lauth Investigations provides a steadily growing umbrella of private investigator services; ranging from missing persons to custody issues for private clients, through to workplace investigations small and large within the business and corporate sphere. We draw on the talents of a diverse team with decades of experience across a spectrum of investigative fields. We also take pride in being optimally equipped to provide the very best private investigator to suit the unique challenge of each and every client. One of the ways we help corporations improve themselves from within is by helping them meet the burden of proof regarding sexual harassment.

Among such needs, over recent years many organizations have become acutely aware of the importance of swift action on sexual harassment in the workplace. The #metoo era highlighted not only the importance of safeguarding employee well-being through policy and awareness, but also the potential catastrophes that can unfold when incidents of sexual harassment pass by unheeded. For businesses or organizations in the Midwest either navigating issues of this nature for the first time or exploring how to prevent them proactively, we provide expert support. A private investigator from Lauth Investigations can help you demonstrate that your business truly takes the lead on this vital contemporary issue.

Spotting Sexual Harassment and Stopping It in Its Tracks

Incidents of workplace sexual harassment can take place within an organization of any size, and upon any step of the corporate ladder. Sexual harassment can be described as verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, including unwelcome advances or requests for sexual favors. Its form can range from isolated incidents through to a chronic pattern of behavior. This might include the use of innuendos and double entendre, proposition and coercion, and intimidation or direct threats. It can also include unwelcome exposure to elicit material.

Not only can workplace sexual harassment risk emotional harm to employees, but also lawsuits of a civil or even criminal nature and potential damage to a company’s reputation. All of these factors make mobilizing on this all-important issue a must. So, how exactly can a private investigator from Lauth Investigations help an Indiana business navigate such a challenge?

Impartial Results and Expert Guidance

Whether handled by leadership within a smaller business, or an HR manager within a larger organization, internal sexual harassment investigations place a particular burden on even the most professional of teams. Those who work alongside both accusers and accused can find impartiality a challenge – also shouldering their own inevitable emotional fallout. In dealing with such a delicate matter, impartiality becomes all the more vital as conclusions drawn and actions taken may later be subject to legal scrutiny and litigation.

In contrast, the best private investigator for such circumstances will possess the training and experience to impartially draw out the information required to move towards resolution. Their in-depth understanding of legal obligations and strategic evidence gathering will ensure that investigation results are dependable in terms of safeguarding the organization, and reliable in terms of safeguarding the well-being of employees.

From Prevention to Resolution

For businesses in Indianapolis and across the Midwest, Lauth Investigations are on hand to undertake Corporate Culture Audits, supporting you in fostering a safe work environment in which your team can thrive. Should the need for a sexual assault investigation arise, we are ready to provide the best private investigator to lead a thorough, sensitive, and discreet investigation, ensuring just resolution for all. Private investigators from Lauth Investigations will uncover and document findings on your behalf, and are even adept at giving testimony when required – providing ultimate peace of mind. Whether you are located in Indianapolis, Indiana, or even further afield, our team are ready to support yours. Contact us today to learn more about how we can assist in sexual assault investigations.