What to Do If an Employee Reports Workplace Harassment in California

Workplace harassment is any kind of unwelcome conduct or behavior based on color, race, sex, religion, older age, national origin, genetic information, or disability. All employees have the right to work in a workplace that’s free from any form of harassment. Once an employee reports a workplace harassment incident, your best move is to take effective, reasonable, and quick corrective action.

Following the necessary steps can help shield you and your business from potential liability stemming from a harassment claim under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Likewise, if avoiding liability isn’t an option, acting can help limit the damages you may need to pay.

Listen Carefully to Your Employee’s Story

Listening to your employee’s story will make your employee feel validated. Consequently, doing so will hopefully encourage your employee to view you as an advocate or ally and not an enemy. This will help you collect crucial details about the harassment incident right from the start, even before you start your investigation. Likewise, understanding precisely what occurred will enable you to take the most efficient and appropriate actions and structure your investigation accordingly.

Take Appropriate Action Pending The Investigation

You must conduct a complete and thorough investigation to address the harassment complaint, which will take time. Meanwhile, you must act right away to protect the alleged victims of workplace harassment. Your main goal is to make sure that the alleged harasser won’t have any chance to further harass or retaliate against the alleged victim.

Conduct a Thorough Investigation of the Harassment Complaint

Determine whether the harassment complaint involves conduct that’s serious enough to require a more formal investigation. If, for example, the incident involved an employee feeling slight discomfort because of an offhand compliment from another employee, then you may try counseling the alleged harasser and warning them of the consequences should they engage in any kind of workplace harassment again. 

But if the harassment complaint involves conduct that’s clearly in violation of your policies and the law, you must investigate the incident promptly and carefully. You must then take action based on the factual findings of the investigation.

Inform All Parties of The Investigation Results

Create a memorandum or letter that details the results of the investigation and send it to all parties involved in the case. This documentation may prove useful later in case your employee decides to pursue a claim under the FEHA, to demonstrate that you took reasonable steps to correct the harassment and prevent further incidents from happening.

Take The Necessary Remedial Measures

You must take all the necessary steps to protect the harassment victim’s interests and safety and enforce your workplace harassment policies. You should likewise consider reassessing your harassment policies and implementation to ensure that you are taking the appropriate measures to prevent future workplace harassment incidents.

Get In Touch With an Experienced California Employment Lawyer Now

If you need legal advice with a workplace harassment case, reach out to the law office of Kaufman McAndrew LLP right away. You can arrange your consultation with our California employment lawyer by sending us an online message or calling 818-788-5767.