We Protect Workers

What should happen after a harassment complaint?

Workers in California have the right to expect to work in a place that’s free of discrimination and harassment. They have the right to report those behaviors to their employer if they occur. 

Once an employee makes a complaint to the employer, several things should happen. The most important is that the employer must take steps to ensure the safety of the reporting employee and investigate the matter impartially.

Addressing workplace harassment in California

When a worker reports harassment in California, employers must take immediate steps to address the situation. This response is a legal obligation and is critical to maintaining a safe and respectful work environment. California law requires employers to have written policies against harassment and to investigate any claims thoroughly and promptly.

Initiating an investigation

Upon receiving a harassment complaint, the first step for an employer is to initiate a timely investigation. This process should be impartial and comprehensive while ensuring the confidentiality of all parties involved. 

Employers often need to engage trained investigators who are either internal employees familiar with investigation procedures or external professionals. 

Implementing interim measures

Employers might need to implement interim measures to prevent further harassment or retaliation. These measures can include changing work schedules, making temporary shifts in reporting structures or placing the accused on administrative leave. These actions aren’t punishments. Instead, they’re designed to safeguard all employees involved in the investigation.

Concluding the investigation and taking action

Once the investigation is concluded, the employer must review the findings and decide on the appropriate action. This can range from warnings and mandatory training to suspension or termination, depending on the severity of the conduct. Employers must also take steps to prevent future incidents.

Employees who have to deal with harassment that’s not handled by the employer may opt to pursue legal action. Working with someone familiar with these matters is critical if you intend to pursue a claim.