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View Full Version : Corporate America: Human resources, sexual harrassment, promotions, etc



thethinker42
09-21-2009, 07:09 AM
I've been out of the corporate rat race long enough that I can't remember how some things work. I'm doing some digging around on the 'tubes too, but figured I'd throw it out here...

If someone is up for a promotion and has had a recent sexual harassment complaint, can this be discussed/mentioned/factored in when he's interviewing for the promotion? (Complaint in question was resolved, but still on his record) Ex, can they ask him to say what happened?

When the employee in question is dealing with the complaint (called into HR), how much can the HR rep actually tell him? As far as what supposedly happened, who made the complaint, etc?

Thanks in advance!

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AnnieColleen
09-21-2009, 08:16 AM
I don't know much about HR, but I ran across this (http://evilhrlady.blogspot.com/) blog recently that might be helpful.

RJK
09-21-2009, 04:41 PM
There is a definite line between performance and discipline. If you are discussing or considering a promotion based on a person's performance, you cannot discuss the disciplinary action.
The outcome of the disciplinary action MAY have resulted in the person being prevented from being considered for promotion, but that would be a separate action.

threedogpeople
09-22-2009, 09:32 PM
If someone is up for a promotion and has had a recent sexual harassment complaint, can this be discussed/mentioned/factored in when he's interviewing for the promotion? (Complaint in question was resolved, but still on his record) Ex, can they ask him to say what happened?

When the employee in question is dealing with the complaint (called into HR), how much can the HR rep actually tell him? As far as what supposedly happened, who made the complaint, etc?



"Resolved" is a tricky word.

If the complaint was investigated and found to be false, then it should NOT be in the employee's record. A smart HR person will keep a separate, personal file (not a part of the employee's personnel file). Why? An employee has the right to see and copy their entire personnel file, they don't have a right to see an HR person's personal files.

If the complaint was investigated and found to be true, then the employee should have been terminated (most corporations have a 'zero tolerance' policy regarding sexual harassment). A memo to the employee's personnel file would be prepared stating that the employee was terminated 'for cause' and 'is not eligible for rehire'. Nothing else would be included in the personnel file. See above regarding the HR professional's personal file.

If the complaint was investigated, found to be true, but not crossing the line to harassment, then it would be in the employee's record. An example of this would be, someone that makes a statement that is in poor taste or shows bad judgment, but doesn't cross the line of the legal definition of harassment then there should be a written reprimand signed by the employee (if HR is doing a good job) in the employee's personnel file. The reprimand would NOT include any details.

Regarding what HR can tell the accused: it is a tricky line. HR will need to ask the accused what happened, what was said, and who witnessed the event as part of the investigation.

HR should NOT tell the accused anything private that the complaining person told them - for example: how the comments or actions made them feel, whether they had to have medical or psychological treatment after, etc.

Where the HR person is not sure about whether (or how much of) the information should be held confidential, legal should be contacted for an opinion.

BTW - if someone complains to HR, they can refuse to have HR investigate. Sometimes people just want someone to listen and don't want anything else to happen. In that case the HR person carefully documents the incident and keeps it in their personal files.

=========================

Regarding the interview for the promotion, if the incident was resolved with a reprimand then I would instruct the accused to NOT discuss the incident with anyone and that if anyone asks they should be referred to me (the HR professional).

backslashbaby
09-22-2009, 11:04 PM
At a certain cigarette company here [;)] they just deactivate the complainer's swipe card after her meeting with HR. Ask me how I know this ;)

Any action taken - other than firing me - was confidential and I couldn't be told that information. Nobody else was fired at that time, I still learned. Others weren't told why I left.

This is the bad way to do things [:D] but when folks say it never happens, oh does it happen! I think it depends on their confidence in their legal team. I couldn't afford to sue them.

I don't know where you are taking your story, so if this all is irrelevant, sorry!

[The ending to that saga is a great story, but folks could figure out who I'd be talking about. PM me if anyone wants to hear it for their story!]

Deep Woods Writer
09-23-2009, 08:12 PM
As a former Shop Steward I handled a huge amount of these types of complaints. Any type of harassment complaint is automatically a cause for investigation. And in the U.S. these complaints MUST BE in writing and a copy provided to the accused. Due process is the key to these types of complaint investigations. And a part of due process is the results of investigation being provided to BOTH SIDES !!!

And woe and doom to the HR office that keeps a seperate file regarding ANY person, either directly or indirectly, like a sub-contractor. 'Secret files' maintained by that office that bear on the individual's performance or other personal information are covered by the Federal Privacy Act of 1974. The HR office that gets caught maintaining such secret file's, in violation, are gonna' wind up, if they're just real lucky, just testing the limits of their insurance carrier's patience and policy. If the file is found to have been used to deliberatley injure the person named, like a civil rights violation, then, well, let's just say hello to some real nice vacation spot in the Federal Bureau of Prisons for the next 3 to 5 years.

I've seen far too many of these complaints are made verbally and then run thru some kind of 'kangaroo court' which results in illegal actions and inevitably the accused turning around and suing the company or agency and winning a huge settlement award. In short, the accused is tried by the accusations and anything else, like the real truth, is either disregarded or just plain trashed since the truth is too embarassing to deal with.

One Senior Federal Manager's case I know of went so far as discovering illegal wiretap's and electronic surveillance ordered by a Federal Branch Manager, with no authorization or electronic surveillance warrants signed by ANY JUDGE, on a line-manager for the sole purpose of trying to get the line-manager fired for mis-conduct so the Branch Manager could then replace him with his girlfriend. That the line-manager was black and the girlfrend was white didn't help.

By the time the whole thing was resolved, out of court with the NAACP acting as the line-manager's lawyer by the way, due to the embarassment, the line-manager wound up collecting over $1.5 million, several others got anywhere from $250,000 to over $800,000 and the Branch Manager got a sudden 'transfer' to a base in Wisconsin. The Branch Manager's boss was later hauled into a Federal EEO hearing and found, publicly, to have committed repeated acts of racial discrimination in the hiring and promotion of employees. By law that decision was required to be posted publicly in a various prominent location.

That's what harassment and a lack of ethics gets you. And some people wonder why their are so many lawyers and lawsuits out there. Before any manger decides to feed their ego at the expense of their people it is HIGHLY suggested that they look at the consequences.