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  • Need advice Texas

    Good afternoon all. I'd like to hear advice/ opinions on a certain situation I have at our company right now.

    I have been told by a manager (John) that one of his employees (Sally) told another coworker (Jane) that John had slapped her (Sally) on the behind. Jane also reports that Sally has mentioned incidents like this occurring with other, non management male coworkers too in the past few months. Jane told John about these comments. John says that he has never touched Sally, in any way, and he does not believe any other male workers have either. John has not spoken to Sally about this. This does not seem like one prevalent incident but rather a few comments by Sally made over the course of about 3 or 4 months to Jane, who is her work friend. Sally has not ever told a manager about this, nor me (HR). I am unsure of the context in which she told this to Jane, but it seems as if it was just in conversation and not as an actual reporting of something.

    What would you do? Let it alone and just monitor from afar, since Sally has not actually reported any behavior? Or meet with Sally and bring these comments up and see if she would like to report something, or ask her further about this?

    Sally tends to exaggerate things, she likes 'drama' in my experience with her, and I tend to believe John on this but I want to make sure I act appropriately and not make assumptions.

    Thanks!

  • #2
    I would have one-on-one meetings with both employees, get their side of the story from THEM. I would LISTEN and not interrupt. Ask questions, but give them a chance to tell their story first. NO ASSUMPTIONS.
    - I would tell Sally if it happens again to report to HR and her supervisor to report it immediately. I would email or memo her to that effect, and place it in her personnel file.
    - I would tell the guy if he is doing anything then stop doing it, and if he is not doing anything, then do not worry about it. I would email or memo her to that effect, and place it in her personnel file.
    - I would tell everyone else if they actually saw something, to report it to HR and their supervisor immediately. Other, shut-the-h***-up. Stop trying to start fires.
    - I would memo HR all the above.

    I have no problem with firing the guy and putting the reason on billboard outside the company but only if the girl will actually report the problem in a timely manner to the correct people. She has a right not to be harassed but an obligation to report the problem. The company cannot fix problems employees hide from them. You cannot sue the fire department for your housing burning down when you could not be bothered to call them in the first place.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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    • #3
      I agree with DAW but because this same employee has told another that others have slapped her as well I would have the one-on-one and the first question I would ask would be, "Sally, has anyone in this company ever struck you in anyway?" And then let her talk. I wouldn't mention John because he isn't the only person she said had slaped her.

      If she says no. Then I would ask "Have you been the victim of any unwanted physical contact?"

      If she says no to that as well you might want to think about some level of disciplinary action for saying people are slapping her when they aren't. At least a warning that is also a reminder that if any such action were to ever occur it should be reported immediately along with an explanation of the defamation law in your state.
      Last edited by Payroll Guy; 12-15-2017, 06:51 AM.

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      • #4
        I agree that all people involved should be interviewed. You have a (somewhat) credible report that something might be going on, and you have to investigate. But, given the at best, questionable, 3rd party evidence, the first person that gets interviewed is Sally, as Payroll Guy said, and I would have a 2nd witness there. If she says no, she was never touched, then tell her that you have reports from more than one person that she has said she was, and that making false accusations is grounds for discipline up to and including termination. In future, if she does experience harassment, she is to report it to you, and only you, and you will take appropriate action.

        Comment


        • #5
          The key is however weak and back door the notification, the company has been notified of a POSSIBLE problem. They are not required to assume any particular party is correct, they are not required to fire someone, but they are required to do SOMETHING. Ignoring possible situations puts the company at legal risk.

          Talk to the parties privately and by one at a time and LISTEN. Do not assume you know the story. I am fine with asking questions but do this after they are done talking. Supervisors who cannot or will not listen are sometimes the problem.

          If there is a problem, the victim needs to go through channels and formal report this. That means supervisor and HR.

          If non-participants actually know something, they also need to report this through channels. But if not, they need to SHUT UP. Talk to them privately, LISTEN, and if they have no legally interesting information, tell them to SHUT UP. Tell them they are making the situation worse. If you have to suspend or fire people to get their attention, fine.

          These types of meetings are ALWAYS one on one in private, and ALWAYS documented. The supervisor ALWAYS has to not ASSUME that they know the story and ALWAYS has to listen. Save your questions/comments for the end of the meeting. Most people cannot listen and talk at the same time.
          "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
          Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

          Comment


          • #6
            And smart companies have a non-harassment policy which they routinely communicate to ALL employees. Not just sexual harassment. If you talk to everyone, then no one person can legally complain that they are being singled out.
            "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
            Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

            Comment


            • #7
              I think you should still talk to Sally, maybe she is afraid to admit that she really became a victim of harassment?
              I am a practicing psychologist, and I am often approached by girls who are afraid to resist male violence. Believe me, this is a very big problem, and you, like HR, must know it.
              It all starts with little things, but then, due to the fact that the girl is silent about some points, she becomes worse inside. She may start drinking alcohol or try to commit suicide. Yes, it is cruel, but it is a reality.
              Many simply do not have enough support to filing for divorce in texas if the husband beats her or in order to repel the boss if he molests. So, if you have the opportunity to help this girl, just do it.

              Comment

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