A well-functioning human resources office can alert employers to harassment complaints in the workplace so that the employer can act quickly and effectively.
Unfortunately, sometimes there is a conflict of interest when HR is called upon to police a company while remaining accountable to its senior executives, who in some cases, are the subject of the investigation or are reluctant to enforce harassment policies, particularly against top employees.
When a employee files a complaint and nothing happens, the employer’s credibility is shot, of course. If the harassment continues or the employee is retaliated against for complaining, the company can be held liable if the harassment is based on race, gender, religion, national origin, age or disability or other violations of federal law (specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and state laws.
Experts recommend that companies have a written anti harassment policy and follow through when an employee makes a complaint. The HR department is charged with investigating harassment complaints in the workplace and enforcing consequences when necessary.
Since that is not the way the system always works, employees whose concerns go unaddressed should contact an experienced employment law attorney to find out what the laws are and put a stop to the harassment. As one attorney who has represented women in harassment cases put it at a recent ‘Women in the World Conference’ in New York, “HR is not your friend…The first call you make should be to an attorney”.
If you have been discriminated against or harassed in your workplace, contact the Davenport, Iowa employment discrimination lawyers of McDonald, Woodward & Carlson PC for help. If your rights were violated at work, we can assist you with advice, advocacy and representation to right the wrong. Call us today at 563-355-6478.
Source: New York Times, “Gretchen Carlson: ‘In 2017, Every Damn Woman Still Has a Story”, by Emma-Kate Symons, accessed April 10, 2017.