How can an attorney help my company avoid problems with sexual harassment cases?

While you may wish to contact the EEOC in Washington DC for guidelines on sexual harassment, or look at a book on the subject, you should probably have an attorney review your sexual harassment policy and grievance procedures. Often, a poorly written policy is worse than no policy at all.

An attorney can advise you on how to deal with otherwise valuable employees who may be creating a problem, without leaving yourself open to claims from other employees and to claims that the alleged offender may later bring against the employer if the claims turn out to be unfounded. For example, if your leading salesman is acting inappropriately, counsel can help you to get the message across so that you don't lose both new sales and a sexual harassment suit.

If you receive a sexual harassment complaint, get a knowledgeable attorney on-board quickly. If the investigation is conducted under the auspices of an attorney, some of the investigative conversations, such as between the attorney and the owner or general manager, might be protected from discovery because it may be privileged as "attorney work product." The attorney will also help make sure the investigation of any alleged harassment is both thorough and confidential, and that any disciplinary action taken is prompt and appropriate.

Swift and effective handling of initial allegations help both with the case at hand and to prevent future incidences of harassment. As in many other things, hypocrisy hurts.




(Reviewed 9-08)