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Don’t fear distress caused by proper investigations

by on
in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources,Office Management,Records Retention

You don't have to worry that the target of your harassment investigation will turn around and sue you for emotional distress. The 2nd Circuit said he can't do it.

After Carrier Corp. investigated a sexual harassment claim, the alleged harasser sued for distress caused by the probe. A jury awarded him $400,000, but the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals threw the award out this year.

"Such investigations foreseeably produce emotional distress, often in copious amounts, in alleged harassers," the court ruled. But allowing alleged harassers to sue would put a chill on employer's necessary efforts to find the truth about harassment complaints. (Malik v. Carrier Corp., No. 98-7121, 2000)

The court also let the company place a letter in his personnel file that said the claim did not result in discipline but his behavior was unacceptable.

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