The Recent Debate “Raising Cain” In the Workplace

The recent debate over the sexual harassment allegations against Herman Cain has focused on potential political implications and whether Mr. Cain’s campaign can handle and survive these issues.  The media has largely ignored what role, if any, Mr. Cain’s former employer may have played in investigating and dealing with its employees’ complaints.  An employer that fails to investigate and respond to an employee’s complaint of inappropriate conduct by a co-worker or superior is simply inviting litigation.  Employers should have established procedures for dealing with these complaints that includes the following considerations.

  • Never ignore the complaint. Treat it seriously.
  • Immediately document the complaint and every action you take to investigate and address the issue.
  • Let all parties involved know that you take such complaints seriously, and improper conduct will not be tolerated.
  • Insure that your investigation is full, impartial and objective.
  • Determine whether other employees may have been subject to past harassment and investigate appropriately.
  • Take no action which appears to single out or isolate the complaining employee.
  • Make sure that those responsible for such investigations are properly trained and educated.

If employees are assured employers will fairly and objectively address complaints of a hostile work environment, they are less likely to take legal action. If employees know their organization will vigilantly address such issues, they are less likely to engage in a bad behavior. In the end, by being proactive, employers can rest assured no one will be “raising Cain” with their organization.

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