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How to Best Protect
Scott Johnston of Member
Driven Technologies discusses data protection over
the holidays and beyond.
Business Member Cash
VSoft’s Murthy Veeraghan-ta offers cash flow management best practices.
Employ Your CU’s
Allow every employee to
deliver your CU’s strategy,
gameFI’s Siri Chakka says.
A Better Plan
Michael Fryzel reacts to
a CU’s decision to file a
lawsuit against Trump and
Allegations of sexual harassment and as- sault have hit the news almost daily
over the last several weeks, with
fingers pointing at Hollywood “
AListers,” corporate executives, politicians, journalists, etc., etc., etc.
Many of the allegations have
been raised years, or even decades, after the harassment allegedly occurred. Why have the
victims, both men and women,
waited so long to come forward?
Many reportedly were afraid that
coming forward would be career-ending. By remaining silent, those
victims internalized the harm,
and, in some cases, continued to
endure further harassment by the
same perpetrators. Their silence
also may have enabled the perpetrators to harass other victims.
The Fear of Retaliation
In the “real world,” beyond Hol-
lywood and Capitol Hill, how can
companies eliminate the fear of
retaliation that deters victims of
harassment from coming forward
immediately? Perhaps it’s time to
reexamine the complaint mecha-
nism in the typical anti-harass-
ment policy found in employee
Most complaint mechanisms
are multi-tiered, meaning that
the complaining party is told to
voice concerns to his/her immediate supervisor, human resources (particularly if the supervisor
is the alleged perpetrator), or another management official. Many
handbooks also include “open
door” policies that invite employees to stop by an executive’s office
at any time to talk about anything
(and that anything could include
allegations of harassment).
The primary goal of the typical
complaint mechanism is to put
the company on notice of the alleged harassment, give human
resources a chance to investigate
and (if necessary) take prompt remedial action, and create a working environment free of harassment for all employees.
Implementation of an anti-harassment policy with a complaint
mechanism also may help employers establish an affirmative defense
to liability in litigation (known as
the “Faragher/Ellerth affirmative
defense”) to some types of harassment claims, particularly if the employee did not follow the written
Is Anonymous Reporting the
The typical anti-harassment policy may not remove the fear of
retaliation, even if the policy expressly prohibits retaliation (as
most do). Perhaps the fear of retaliation can be eliminated by incorporating into the complaint
procedure an option for anonymous reporting. Of course, some
employers’ policies already provide for anonymous reporting, but
it’s far from universal.
Anonymous reporting is not a
perfect solution. For one thing,
without knowing the identity of
the complaining party, it’s much
more difficult for human resources to investigate a complaint, particularly if the anonymous complaint lacks sufficient (or any)
detail as to what happened, when
it happened and who observed it
happening. And, if HR can’t complete a thorough investigation,
which normally would include
interviewing the complaining
party, then HR may not be able to
reach a reasoned conclusion, take
remedial action (if necessary)
against the perpetrator, and prevent future occurrences.
Anonymous reporting may
also create proof problems when
it comes to establishing the Faragher/Ellerth affirmative defense,
which often turns on proving that
the plaintiff failed to complain
about the alleged harassment. If a
complaint is anonymous, the employer may never know the source
of the complaint.
Necessity Is the Mother of
Despite the flaws inherent in anonymous reporting, some believe that
an anonymous complaint is better
than no complaint at all. That belief has given birth to a soon-to-be-launched website called AllVoices.
Created by Claire Schmidt, a former technology executive at 20th
Century Fox, AllVoices will provide
an avenue for employees to bypass
human resources and anonymously report harassment and discrimination directly to corporate CEOs
and boards of directors.
AllVoices will aggregate reports
Rethinking the Harassment Compliance Model
of harassment and discrimina-
tion by company, deliver the com-
plaints to each company without
any personally identifiable in-
formation, and advise the com-
plaining party when the target
company has received the report
and whether the company has
taken action. Schmidt describes
AllVoices as “a safe place for peo-
ple to report what they’ve expe-
rienced without having to come
forward publicly, risk their jobs or
reputations, or fear retaliation.”
Only time will tell whether All-
Voices succeeds in achieving its
goals, but, in the interim, it would be
prudent for all employers to review
their anti-harassment and anti-dis-
crimination policies to ensure that
employees are, to the extent pos-
sible, undeterred in bringing com-
plaints forward immediately. n
firstname.lastname@example.org Key Takeaways
Y It’s time to reexamine the employee complaint
mechanism in anti-harassment policies.
Y Incorporate into the complaince procedure an
option for anonymous reporting.
Y Anonymous reporting creates its own
challenges for HR professionals.