John A. Klassen, PA Minnesota Employment Law Attorney
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Sexual harassment investigation following a claim by an employee

When employees in Minnesota and elsewhere believe that they are victims of sexual harassment, it is often difficult to speak up or file a report or claim. It is often an uncomfortable situation, and many employees might not fully understand what it means to file an action against a harasser. Because of that, it is important be become familiar with the process and what a sexual harassment investigation entails.

When an employee files a sexual harassment claim, it must meet the definition of "sexual harassment." This is outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, and defines sexual harassment as unwelcomed behavior that is sexual in nature and explicitly or implicitly affects the victim's terms or conditions of employment, unreasonably interferes with the victim's work performance or causes an intimidating, offensive or hostile work environment.

When employees believe that they are victims of sexual harassment, the next step is to make their employer aware of the situation. This could be accomplished through filing a complaint with human resources or directly with an employer. Once an employer is aware of the complaint, the employer has a legal obligation to investigate.

An internal investigation should be conducted and should meet the goals of obtaining a full, objective understanding of the facts, and put an end to the sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct. If this is not done in a timely manner, or if an employer is not able to resolve the problem on their own, the employee might need to file a complaint with the EEOC to address the issue.

It should be noted that confidentiality is important in these matters. Unless an employee comes forward and directly communicates with an employer about the situation, a sexual harassment complaint must remain confidential. This not only protects the individual filing the complaint, but also protects the investigation process.

Source: Blr.com, "Sexual Harassment," accessed Nov. 22, 2015

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