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Workplace conflicts undermine the sustainability of a work environment and pose a substantial threat to employees’ happiness and wellbeing. Conflicts regularly occur in all types of organizations; therefore, it is essential to understand investigatory steps involving heated disagreements to effectively mediate their resolution (Lytle, 2015). This paper aims to analyze a conflict scenario in which an employee is sexually abused by her manager. The paper will discuss proper approaches to a workplace investigation of the situation and indicate laws associated with it.
When dealing with workplace disagreements, I prefer using a collaborative style of conflict management. However, I am cognizant of the fact that the use of alternative approaches to conflict resolution is a prerequisite for the maintenance of an amicable working environment. Therefore, I harmonize some emotional tensions with the help of the negotiating conflict management style.
As an employee relations representative for the organization, I know that the report of the prohibited behavior constitutes grounds for an immediate and impartial investigation. The coworker who reported the alleged harassment should be asked whether Tammy is the only employee who was subjected to inappropriate conduct of sexual nature. Ellen must be informed about the importance of confidentiality since disclosure might harm the alleged victim. She also should be provided with a written notice on retaliation. Taking into consideration the fact that the report involves ongoing harassment, it is necessary to take proper steps to separate Tammy from the manager. Also, the alleged victim is concerned about her safety, which means that the separation should be immediate.
An investigation of an alleged breach of the company’s sexual harassment policy cannot be initiated before the submission of a written statement by a complainant (Guerin, 2016). Therefore, upon hearing about the incident, it is necessary to assist Tammy in completing the comprehensive statement. In addition to the statement, several documents will be used during the planning stage of the investigation: the organization’s harassment policy, personnel files of the complainant and the respondent, and attendance records (Guerin, 2016). Once the planning is finished, it is necessary to interview the two parties and gather physical evidence such as video and audio records, photographs, emails, memos, correspondence, and other items related to the incident. Opening comments in the interviews will involve the purpose of the investigation process, confidentiality, and retaliation (Guerin, 2016). I will also address any questions or concerns of the two parties during the interviews.
To ensure that the investigation of the alleged harassment is prompt and exhaustive, I will encourage the alleged victim to present as much relevant evidence as possible. A thorough complaint resolution procedure will necessitate the following information: the employee’s full name and position, the accused individual’s full name and position, possible witnesses’ full names and positions, full names and positions of other victims of the accused individual, and a comprehensive description of the incident (SHRM, 2016). Furthermore, the alleged victim should provide any information that she believes to be relevant to the case. I will also ask Tammy to describe her previous relationships with the manager and her reaction to his actions. The employee will be encouraged to discuss how the alleged harassment affected her. It is my role as an investigator to gather as much relevant information about the incident as possible to resolve the issue. It has to be borne in mind that the inquiry should be limited to questions that facilitate prompt resolution of the complaint (Guerin, 2016). By overstepping investigative boundaries, it is possible to emotionally traumatize the alleged victim.
The manger might be wrongfully accused; therefore, I will try to have an impartial mindset when investigating the allegations. The accused party will be presented with several questions regarding the alleged misconduct that mirror those directed to Tammy. Also, it is essential to provide the manager with an opportunity to respond to the complaint (Guerin, 2016). I will also ask the manager whether they are familiar with the organization’s sexual harassment policy
If there are witnesses to the accident, they should be identified and interviewed. If any new evidence emerges during the investigation, I will conduct follow-up interviews. The organization has a legal obligation to take decisive actions necessary to end the harassment (Guerin, 2016). The severity of the alleged breach of the company’s sexual harassment policy will be assessed to determine whether the law was violated. The alleged behavior of the manager constitutes a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (EEOC, n.d.). Furthermore, if the accusations are accurate, the organization will be “subject to vicarious liability for unlawful harassment by supervisors” (Solotoff & Kramer, 2017, p. 56). Since the accused party holds a position of influence in the company, the alleged harassment necessitates a heightened response.
The paper has presented the investigation process for the conflict scenario involving workplace sexual harassment. Key investigatory steps and response actions necessitated by the situation have been outlined and discussed in detail. The analysis of the scenario has helped me to better understand laws associated with behavior that constitutes sexual harassment.
EEOC. (n.d.). Facts about sexual harassment. Web.
Guerin, L. (2016). The essential guide to workplace investigations: A step-by-step guide to handling employee complaints & problems. Berkeley, CA: Nolo.
Lytle, T. (2015). Confronting conflict: Conflict isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But ignoring it can be. HR Magazine, 60(6), 27-31.
SHRM. (2016). Sexual harassment policy and complaint/investigation procedure. Web.
Solotoff, L., & Kramer, H. (2017). Sex discrimination and sexual harassment in the work place. Newark, NJ: Law Journal Press.