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Are you ready for the outcome of a harassment investigation?

Let us say your coworker, Anthony, is behaving toward you in ways you find offensive. In fact, you despise his off-color jokes, unwelcome touching and related actions as sexual harassment.

You intend to take your concerns to the Human Resources Department, and they will likely launch an investigation into your claims. This is good, but are you prepared for the outcome?

What happens

You and Anthony work in the marketing department with a few other employees. There is a lot of teamwork and interaction. Anthony volunteers to work on projects with you, which is how he finds opportunities to tell lewd jokes, brush up against you and hint about places where the two of you could spend time together after work.

What to do

The first step is for you to confront Anthony and make him understand he is making you feel uncomfortable. Do this in writing; send him an email. He will probably respond, and you now have some evidence to support the harassment concerns you take to HR.

The response from Human Resources

HR personnel must remain impartial. They will ask you questions about what happened, and they will also interview Anthony. They will review the personnel records for both of you and talk to any employees who may have witnessed Anthony’s behavior. HR will be very careful in their approach to this matter because they do not want to defame Anthony if they find he has done nothing wrong.

Dealing with the outcome

If HR finds merit in your complaint, they may deal with Anthony by issuing a warning or requiring him to attend behavioral training if the company provides such a program. They could also see that he is assigned to another department. Worst case from your point of view is that the investigation is inconclusive, which means you may have to continue working with Anthony. If he has learned his lesson, fine. But if Anthony does not change his ways, explore your legal options. You have the right to seek assistance outside the company for a claim of sexual harassment.

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