The Steps For an Employee to Take if They Feel They Have Been Harassed
As an employee, you are entitled to a safe workplace, one that is free of harassment. Your employer is legally required to provide you with this safe and harassment-free workplace. If you feel you have been harassed at work, there are steps you can take to approach and deal with it.
Read our recent article below by Kn/A HR’s Dawn Hillrud below for these steps to help guide you through this stressful situation:
1. Tell Your Harasser to Stop
If you are comfortable doing so, promptly tell your alleged harasser to stop the harassing behaviour. Be specific, name the behaviour, and clearly state that what they are doing is inappropriate and why. It is possible that your harasser is not aware that their actions are offensive and/or fall under the definition of harassment. And, if made aware, they may change their behaviour.
2. Write a Detailed Harassment Complaint
If telling your harasser to stop fails, or if it is not an option to tell your harasser to stop, you must write a detailed complaint. In the complaint, include specific details of the alleged harassment including:
- supporting documentation
A detailed written complaint will provide your manager or the organization with the information required to move forward.
3. Maintain as Much Confidentiality as Possible
Initially, and throughout the processes, you go through in dealing with your complaint, handle all information as confidentially as possible. Dependent on the steps post-complaint submission (investigation, litigation, etc.), you will be required to release details on an as-needed basis. Ensure the people you are sharing information related to your alleged harassment and harasser are appropriate.
4. Refer to Your Organization’s Harassment Policy
Many workplaces have detailed and robust harassment policies that can guide you through dealing with the alleged harassment and your harasser (your respondent). Check your harassment policy and see if it can direct you through the process and where to take your written complaint.
5. Tell Someone Who Can Help
If your policy does not provide you with the guidelines needed to move ahead, tell a manager or leader within the organization that you feel you have been subjected to harassment, and share with them your written complaint. Your employer is required by law to respond to your complaint promptly. Your manager or HR may decide to facilitate conversation between you and your respondent to resolve the issue. If this is not successful, or if you or your alleged harasser are not comfortable participating in a facilitated conversation, an investigation of your complaint should be launched.
6. Cooperate with the Investigation Processes
If an investigation is launched, as difficult as it may be, you must cooperate with the investigation and the investigators. This cooperation may include:
- participating in the investigation which will include interviews
- sharing information and documents
- providing the names and contact information of witnesses of your harassment
7. Follow Up
Once the investigation is complete, regardless of the outcome, you must participate in the follow up as initiated by your manager or the organization. You may be asked to:
- participate in relationship repair efforts between you and your respondent
- change departments to create space between you and your respondent
- participate in anti-harassment training
As an employee, you are entitled to a safe and harassment-free workplace. The above provides you with steps to take to deal with harassment situations. If you remain uncertain, speak to your manager or your HR department.
We offer additional insight into the HR investigation process on our website. Please contact us if you have questions not answered there.