When investigating supervisor sexual harassment claims, you must conduct a fair workplace investigation, not a criminal probe. As long as the investigation was fair and the conclusion was reasonable, courts won’t interfere.
Recent case: Richard Byrd, who is black, was a supervisor with Merrill Lynch until he was fired for sexual harassment. Several black female subordinates claimed that Byrd treated them with disrespect and demanded sexual favors. The company investigated and believed the subordinates.
Byrd sued, claiming that the company was wrong and that the subordinates conspired to get rid of him because he was friends with a white woman.
The court dismissed the case, concluding that Merrill Lynch acted appropriately, regardless of what really happened. (Byrd v. Merrill Lynch, No. 10-0247, DC NJ, 2011)
- Consider having a witness to employee meetings
- Dock pay as part of discipline?
- Examine actual job duties--not job descriptions--to determine if jobs are truly equivalent
- Focus on ability to perform duties if you worry worker may have mental or emotional problems
- Get legal advice before settling with employee