Ensure Harassment Reporting Systems are Multi-Faceted in Business and at Work


In their June 2016 report, The EEOC Select Task Force on Harassment in the Workplace made this important recommendation regarding employee harassment reporting systems:

There is a significant body of research establishing the many concerns that employees have with current reporting systems in their workplaces. In response to some of those concerns, we heard broad support for reporting systems that are multifaceted, including a choice of procedures, and choices among multiple “complaint handlers.”Such a robust reporting system might include options to file complaints with managers and human resource departments, via multi-lingual complaint hotlines, and via web-based complaint processing. In addition, a multi-faceted system might offer an employee who complains about harassment various mechanisms for addressing the situation, depending on the type of conduct and workplace situation. For example, an employee may simply need someone in authority to talk to the harasser in order to stop the behavior. In other situations, the employer may need to do an immediate intervention and begin a thorough investigation.

While this may seem logical for large publicly held organizations with large HR, Ethics, Loss Prevention and other compliance functions, small businesses and other organizations often don’t have as many resources and “complaint handlers” as larger organizations.

Complaint Handlers for these smaller organizations include but are not limited to:

  • The CEO;
  • CFO;
  • COO;
  • Managers and Supervisors;
  • Third-Party Firms / Consultants (CPA, HR, etc.).

Expanding the Complaint Handler options also provides opportunity for gender and other EEO diversity options for complainants, e.g.: complainants often prefer to work with Complaint Handlers who reflect the diversity categories of the complainant(s).

Communication methods for these smaller organizations include but are not limited to:

  • Phone (verbal);
  • In-Person (verbal);
  • Handwritten (hard-copy) complaints;
  • Emailed complaints;
  • Web-based contact forms;
  • Text Messages.

How will you ensure that your organization’s Harassment Reporting Systems (and Complaint Handlers) are multi-faceted in business and at work?

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