Investigating Sexual Harassment Charges - Questions to Ask the Alleged Harasser
Maintain the anonymity of the alleged victim. If the employee tries to identify the victim, let him/her know who is making the accusation is not important. What is important is the situation that has been described to you.
Inform the alleged harasser that a complaint has been made against him/her. Take care in describing the incident(s). To the extent possible, the name of the alleged victim should not be revealed. If the person's identify is known, it should be made clear to the alleged harasser that no retaliatory action will be tolerated. The accused employee should also be told not to discuss the matter either with co-workers or with the alleged victim.
- What is your response to the allegation?
- If the harasser claims that the allegation is false, ask why the complainant might lie.
- Are there other persons who have relevant information?
- Is there any documentation regarding the incident(s)?
- Do you know of any other relevant information?
Let the accused harasser know you take the allegations seriously.
- Do not make jokes or otherwise indicate you consider the incident to be inconsequential.
- Keep to the point and focus on the harasser's behavior. It is normal for the harasser to try to shift the blame to the person he/she thinks initiated the complaint. If the harasser tries to put the blame on the victim, let him/her know you are concerned only with his/her (the harasser's) behavior.
- Remain neutral. Stay away from committing yourself to either side.
- If there is an indication that the harasser did behave as accused, let him/her know that type of behavior must stop and will not be tolerated. The supervisor may suggest informal remedies and proceed with them.
- If necessary, take the appropriate corrective action. Avoid transferring the victim because this will be seen as retaliation. Consider administrative leave with pay until the investigation is complete.
- Warn the alleged harasser about retaliating against the victim, regardless of the outcome of the investigation.
- If no corrective action is warranted, follow-up with the harasser to let him/her know the outcome of the inquiry on the matter.
- Document! Document! Document!
- Contact the EEO office for advice on corrective action.