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Employment Resources

How To Handle Online Harassment Properly

By November 6, 2017No Comments
Online harassment in the workplace affects 6.5 million employees every year according to a 2014  U.S. Workplace Bullying Survey. Harassment can cause decreased productivity and motivation, increase physical and emotional health problems, and cause legal trouble. It can occur between employees or originate with a company client or other outside source via a company or personal computer, cellphone or other electronic device. Rather than ignore it, take harassment complaints seriously and handle them properly with these tips.

    • Follow Established Procedure

      Your company’s employee handbook should outline the company’s procedure for addressing, reporting and handling harassment of any kind. Follow that procedure for every online harassment claim since it protects the victim and prevents company lawsuits.

    • Investigate Complaints Immediately

      As soon as an employee complains about online harassment, start an investigation. Gather supporting documents, such as printed emails or social media messages. You can request those records from your internet service provider or ask the police for assistance. You will also interview witnesses, including the complainer and any coworkers or friends who can support or dispute the harassment claim.

    • Don’t Retaliate

      Retaliating in any way against someone who files a discrimination complaint or is accused of discrimination is illegal. Examples of retaLiation include:

      • Threats
      • Shift or duty changes
      • Isolation from company functions
      • Demotion
      • Pay cuts
      • Discipline
      • Termination
    • Record Details

      Create a written record of your investigation for your company records and in case you need to take legal action. Include the steps you take to resolve the issue, who you interview and all the documents you receive. Document the outcome and any related actions, too.

    • Cooperate With Authorities

      If the police or other agency becomes involved in the harassment claim, cooperate fully. Provide documents and explain how you handled the investigation.

    • Implement the Appropriate Actions

      If you find that an employee was perpetrating the online harassment, take appropriate action, which could include a warning, counseling or termination. If the harasser is not an employee, consider blocking or filtering communication from them or report them to the police.

    • Maintain Confidentiality

      Protect the victim and the integrity of your case when you keep details of a harassment case private. Confidentiality also decreases interoffice rumors and drama and increases the likelihood of a fair and swift resolution.

    • Educate Your Team

      Host regular trainings that outline what online harassment is and how to prevent it. Be sure everyone knows that your company has a zero tolerance policy against harassment of any kind from any source.

These eight tips can help you handle online harassment properly. With them, you protect your employees, uphold the law and improve your company.