Human resources and sexual harassment claims

Tennessee employees depend on human resources departments to investigate claims of sexual harassment. However, several well-publicized scandals have made it clear that many HR systems do not take these claims seriously.

For instance, an attorney who represented former news anchor Gretchen Carlson in her sexual harassment lawsuit against Fox News told attendees of a recent business conference that HR is not on an employee's side. She advised workers to take sexual harassment claims to a lawyer before speaking to human resources. In an April 6 editorial in The Washington Post, attorney Anita Hill echoed those sentiments, saying that many HR departments work against employees that make sexual harassment complaints. Examples of this behavior could include HR discouraging an employee from making a sexual harassment claim or blaming them for the incident.

That is not how it is supposed to work. All employers should have clear anti-discrimination policies that are investigated and upheld by the human resources department. These policies are supposed to apply to all employees, no matter their rank within the workplace. Further, an employee who reports sexual harassment should not be subject to retaliation of any sort.

Federal laws protects employees from harassment based on sex, race, religion, national origin, age and disability. If employees feel they are being sexually harassed or facing other sorts of discrimination, they may find relief by discussing their situation with an employment attorney. An attorney could assess the case and explain how to properly document claims of harassment. Legal counsel could also help file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Source: CNN, "Here's how HR is supposed to handle sexual harassment", Julia Horowitz, April 10, 2017

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