How to Handle Employee Discrimination ComplaintsHR Resource
October 10, 2012 — 2,876 views
How to Handle Employee Discrimination Complaints
Professionals who work in the human resources field are often faced with difficult issues that involve discrimination complaints, harassment reports and other serious claims. As a human resources manager, it’s your job to build a safe and productive workplace for every employee on the company’s payroll. All complaints need to be taken seriously and promptly investigated. There is no room for fighting or discrimination in the modern workplace environment. Implementing a few basic guidelines in your office can help you deal with a variety of sensitive complaints that can involve an employee’s sex, ethnic background, religion and sexual orientation.
When an employee walks into your office to file a discrimination complaint, try not to get nervous or upset. There is a tendency to take discrimination claims seriously when you are dealing with people you see on a daily basis, but you need to keep your distance and stay objective. You have a liability to sort things out, get to the truth and take proper disciplinary action. Getting involved on a personal level will only make it harder for you to do your job right. The first thing you need to do is to listen to the complainant in a private space. Filing a harassment or discrimination claim is very serious. Many employees spend months trying to work up the nerve to speak to their human resources managers, so you need to be careful in how you approach the situation. As you listen to the complaint, reiterate that it will be kept quiet and that you will look into it immediately.
Take notes while you discuss the situation to make sure that you don’t forget any important details after your meeting is over. Start investigating the complaint as soon as possible by speaking to everyone who is involved both deliberately and inadvertently. Some discrimination cases do occur privately, but most are played out in public since coworkers are rarely alone. One of the easiest ways to resolve a complaint is to speak to impartial witnesses who have no reason to be dishonest. As you conduct interviews, take notes that you can reference to come up with a resolution. Remember not to make up your mind until you have all of the facts in front of you. If you find that you are unable to distance yourself from the circumstances of the complaint, hire an independent investigator. After a conclusion is reached, discipline the aggressor according to your company’s discrimination policies and procedures.