Companies must be prepared for the very real possibility that an employee will report alleged harassment by a coworker, according to Michelle Lee Flores, a labor and employment attorney in with Cozen O’Connor P.C. in Los Angeles. Company leadership should consider the potential ways they will be made aware of this information and what their response will be, both in the short-term and the long-term.
“Consider having a go-to employment counselor or advisor if or when it happens to assist in a plan of action to address it,” Flores said.
If companies choose to create an alternative internal mechanism for employees to report directly to a board of directors or an advisory council to address these claims, Flores said leadership should seriously consider including at least one practicing attorney in employment law to diversify the perspectives of reported behavior and the advice regarding what to do with such information and conclusions.
According to branding and neuro-human behavior expert Ali Craig, employees may be more likely to speak up and report incidents of inappropriate conduct if they know action will be taken. Companies should have a known process in place to respond to these types of reports quickly and decisively.
“Women need to know that this won't become a long and drawn out internal office drama,” Craig said. “While at the same time, men need to know that just because allegations are made, that it doesn't mean that the woman is always right.”