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How companies can best respond to sexual harassment claims

How New York employers and others throughout the country handle sexual assault allegations could play a role in how the case proceeds. Companies that take such complaints seriously may limit their liability as well as the potential for backlash against the brand. The first step that a company may want to take is to hire an attorney who understands the legal issues that may arise because of such a claim.

When an individual comes forward with an allegation, that person should be treated with respect. In many cases, victims don’t come forward because they feel like no one will believe them or take the matter seriously. By taking the matter seriously, it may increase the odds of settling it internally as opposed to through a lawsuit. Claims should be investigated in a timely manner even if they appear to have no merit.

Furthermore, anyone who investigates a claim of sexual harassment should be a neutral party with no ties to the organization. Company policy should include interviewing both alleged abusers and victims as well as determining how to handle conflicting reports. If there is a reason why an investigation cannot begin right away, the reason for the delay should be noted. For instance, an internal investigator may be sick or out of the country. This may enhance a company’s credibility in handling a complaint.

If an employee claims to be a victim of harassment, an employer may need to take action quickly. Failure to do so may be seen as an indication that the employer doesn’t care about the matter or is otherwise trying to keep it quiet. Hiring an attorney may make it possible to start and complete an investigation in a thorough and credible manner without violating employer law or other relevant statutes.

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