Question: We sent our head toymaker, Sil Verbells, to visit our partner site in the South Pole. Upon her return, Sil claimed she was sexually harassed in front of witnesses. How should we handle this situation?
Answer: Handle this investigation the same as you would any other investigation of harassment in the workshop. This is a serious offense and needs to be taken seriously.
Various states, including the North Pole, have regulations specifying such practices as unlawful, including the harassment of an employee directly by the employer or indirectly by agents of the employer with the employer’s knowledge. These states generally require employers to ensure a workshop free of sexual harassment by implementing certain minimum requirements, including posting sexual harassment information posters in the workshop and providing information about sexual harassment. Some states require harassment training for supervisors.
In this situation we recommend that you involve the South Pole’s HR contact with your investigation. Since the event occurred at the South Pole’s workshop, that employer also has the responsibility to prevent future occurrences.
Notify Sil Verbells that you are fully investigating this matter and that you will work with the HR contact and management at the South Pole to take appropriate action. Document each conversation and create a separate file for this investigation. Offer assistance to the South Pole so that the investigation is thorough and ask to be advised of the final actions taken so that you can communicate the outcome with Sil Verbells. Consider other actions you could take to ensure this elf’s safety, including not requiring her to work in at the South Pole again.
If no action is taken, your workshop and the South Pole may be exposed to legal ramifications. Employees and job applicants who believe that they have been sexually harassed may file a complaint of discrimination within one year of the harassment. If an employer has failed to take such preventive measures, that employer can be held liable for the harassment. A victim may be entitled to damages, even though no employment opportunity has been denied and there is actually no loss of pay or benefits.