Sometimes, an HR internal investigation reveals that, although harassment occurred, it didn’t rise to the level of illegal harassment. Don’t let that finding lull you into ignoring the complaint—and certainly don’t allow anyone to punish the person who complained.
The best approach: Act swiftly whenever anyone complains about any harassment. You can and should punish serious harassment even if it doesn’t technically violate state or federal law. Then, make doubly sure that any subsequent discipline against the complaining employee is entirely legitimate. In fact, always conduct an independent investigation before authorizing any discipline.
Here’s why: Courts consistently let retaliation cases go to a jury trial even if the same judge dismissed the underlying sexual harassment complaint. That’s because employees who complain about what they reasonably believe might be sexual harassment are protected from retaliation.
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