Documenting Workplace Harassment: Guidance for Supervisors

June 2013 | 0 Comments  Average 0 out of 5

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As a supervisor, it is critical for you to document any harassing behavior you witness or that is reported to you. Be sure to write down the details as soon as possible, while the facts are fresh in your mind. Also consult with your human resources (HR) office right away; there may be a form available and HR professionals may be able to help you prepare the documentation. Even when someone else will do the investigation, good initial documentation is crucial to record what occurred.

This checklist can help ensure you have covered the key details. For example, in your documentation, did you:

  • Write “confidential” at the top?
  • Date the initial documentation, as well as dates for any follow-up documentation?
  • List the dates of all incidents of alleged harassment and the dates on which you talked to individuals involved, such as the accuser, the accused, and any witnesses?
  • State the location(s) of the alleged harassment?
  • Write in plain English without workplace jargon or legal terms?
  • Stick to the facts in describing a complaint or behavior that you witnessed, without making judgments about what occurred or whether you believe the complaint is true?
  • List any witnesses to the alleged harassment?
  • Describe what witnesses saw or heard, if you spoke to them?
  • Accurately record what the complainant told you (if you received a complaint)?
  • Document any actions you told the complainant would be taken in response to the allegations, even if the action is to let HR handle the matter?
  • Write down that you informed the complainant or any witnesses about the institution’s prohibition of retaliation?
  • Accurately record the accused’s side of the story, if you spoke to him or her?
  • Write down that you informed the accused of the institution’s prohibition of retaliation?
  • Ask the individuals involved to review and sign your completed write-ups to indicate that the documentation of your conversations with them is accurate?
  • Make revisions if an individual contends that the documentation of the conversation is inaccurate, so that he or she is satisfied with the write-up and will sign?
  • State the fact that you believe an individual’s story has changed (if that is the situation), and allowed the individual to add any new facts not mentioned in the prior conversation?
  • Retain both an electronic and hard copy of the documentation in a place where it cannot be accessed by others?
  • Provide HR or your supervisor with a copy of the documentation (if required by institutional policy)?

Resource updated August 2014. 


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