Questions & Answers:
Can an employee skip the internal process, and files a civil lawsuit directly? Can we do anything in our company policy?
Yes. An employee may file a lawsuit or complaint without coming to you directly, but you are only liable if you had notice. If the alleged harasser was a supervisor, then you are strictly liable and it does not matter if you had notice, or when the employee brought it to your attention.
I have an employee complained about his supervisor (a lady) pat on his shoulder for a job well done. The employee said his boss "touched" him, and the supervisor said she was just patting him for a job well done. Does this employee have a case? How to down play this to prevent it going further?
You have to do the investigation, get both sides of the story, write everything down and present a closing statement to the employee. It is not harassment, but assure the employee that their concerns were well taken, it was a misunderstanding, and the supervisor will never touch him again.
What if we currently have an employee that is currently in a relationship with her manager? What can my company do at this point? Anything I can do to the company policy or give them some paper to sign?
I would do my best to separate them from a supervisory role. A love contract can help, but the better policy is to not have them working in that type of role.
How to warn our employees and stop the "kiss on the cheek" from ever happening at our company party?
Have a strict “no touch/no fraternization policy. If you are too sterile, however, it might impede the collegiate atmosphere. You may contact me for a sample policy.
Can we put a "no office romance" in the company policy / employee handbook?
Yes. You may contact me for a sample policy.
We have an employee who show some cleverage. We'll amend the employee handbook to add this verbiage that you just mention, "no shirt that shows cleverage." How to communicate to her without being offensive? If I publish the revised policy to everyone, they will know it's meant for her. Will that be "offensive" to her?
I would alter it to say, no low-cut blouses, tight blouses, or shirts that show cleavage. It is not offensive to change your policy, even if she realizes that it was meant for her. If she complains, you just explain that it is necessary to make everyone at work feel comfortable.
At our company party, many of us "hug" each other and their spouses. Do I need to put a stop to that?
No. Until someone complains. And if they do, you just do your investigation and make sure the person understands that there was no ill intent.
Would you send me the forms and dress code you mentioned during the webinar?
Yes. Josh, I will send these to you.
Is it ok for me to conduct my own investigations or should I be using a third party?
It is okay for you to perform your own investigation. If it involves a supervisor, it may be more complicated, and Marie would advise that you consult a legal expert.
What is when conducting an investigation one employee denies the claims of the other employee and there are no witnesses. Should we still discipline the employee.
Not necessarily. Just separate the two people. If it happens again, it would seem more likely than not that the complainer is not telling the whole truth.