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What to do when an employee reports sexual harassment

Texas employers must be careful when handling complaints from employees about sexual harassment. If you receive this type of report from an employee, do not ignore it or avoid discussing it.

This will make the problem much worse and potentially subject you to legal liability. You should take a sexual harassment complaint seriously.

If you do not already, have a sexual harassment policy in place. Make sure the language is clear and details exactly what behavior constitutes sexual harassment and what an employee should do if they believe they are being sexually harassed.

Separate the employees

Part of taking the complaint seriously involves ensuring the alleged harasser and victim are kept apart. Do this immediately even if you have not yet begun the investigation or if you believe the complaint might be false.

Your priority after receiving a complaint of sexual harassment should be making the victim feel safe. They want to know they can come to work and perform their job without worrying about continued harassment and be assured that their complaint is being addressed.

Begin your investigation of the complaint promptly and keep both parties updated on the status. Neither party wants to learn an investigation has started and receive no further communication about it for days or weeks.

Be clear about what steps you will take as part of the investigation and provide an estimated timeline for completion.

This may sound like common sense but make a determination on the matter. Whether you decide that no harassment occurred, to terminate the alleged harasser or to put other requirements in place, state your conclusion and the reasons for it in writing to both parties.

Follow up regularly

Once the investigation concludes, follow up with the alleged victim regularly. Do not make them feel as if you stopped caring once the issue was resolved.

It is not easy to address topics such as sexual harassment in the workplace. However, having a sexual harassment policy and following these steps will help you maintain a healthy and safe workplace.