What’s NOT Harassment … And What Is!
Some employees seem to think that whatever a manager does that annoys them is harassment. Do not be intimidated by this offshoot of “PC” thinking and inform your supervisors and managers that they have a basic mission: directing your staff and managing their performance. Neither is harassment.
Managing is Not Harassment
Here’s what managers can and SHOULD always do and none of these are harassment:
- Insist upon work performance. You can set standards and insist that workers meet the standards!
- Criticize for poor work performance. It’s perfectly acceptable to do performance appraisals and to talk to people about poor performance!
- Enforce policies and rules (so long as you do so equally). You are on solid ground enforcing company policies and rules – but they must be consistently enforced!
- Continue to manage and direct workers even if they have made a complaint. Making a complaint does not shield employees from valid discipline.
Why Should You Care About Harassment?
You need to make sure that your managers and supervisors are aware that harassment hurts employee morale and productivity. When an employee makes a harassment complaint, this can lead to:
- Government charges and lawsuits – these can be expensive and time consuming thereby hurting production and profits
- Embarrassment for the company and the officials involved
- Liability for the company and for you individually
What a Company Should Expect From Its Managers and Supervisors
Managers and supervisors must understand, accept and abide by:
- management’s anti-harassment policy
- management’s procedures for responding to complaints
- management’s approach to fixing problems responsibly
- recognition that it is wrong for employees to be subjected to harassment by supervisors, co-workers, or third party customers/vendors
- management’s obligation to properly respond if an employee claims that improper conduct has occurred, the problem must be reported immediately
- the company and managers/supervisors must treat all employees with respect and dignity
- the company and managers/supervisors must provide a workplace free from unlawful harassment and discrimination
- the company and managers/supervisors do not tolerate harassing behavior
- the company and managers/supervisors must provide prompt investigation of complaints
- the company and managers/supervisors must provide confidentiality (as much as practicable)
- the company and managers/supervisors must provide promptly correct mistakes, wrongful behavior and impose remedies (as appropriate)
- the company and managers/supervisors must provide protection from frivolous claims
- the company and managers/supervisors must not permit or engage in retaliation