Harassment and Discrimination Policies: A "Bypass" Tip

Well HRevolution is over with and it is time to put my “HR Compliance Guy” hat back on. Just about anyone in business today knows that employers of 15 or more must have a Non-discrimination policy that includes a heavy statement directed toward harassment. Generally these policies dictate that if an employee wishes to report harassment or discrimination they need to first report it to their supervisor. They must follow the chain of command. Of course what happens when the person you are reporting this to is the actual harasser. Not likely to go much further up the chain of command is it?
That is why it is necessary to have a “bypass” in the policy. Typically this is the Human Resources manager, if the company is large enough to have one. However, there are two problems with this. First, what if the company is not large enough to have an HR manager in place? Who then does the employee report their problem to? If that is your situation you need to think about that.
The second situation is what if it is the HR Manager that is being harassed? Where is your “bypass” then? Who does that person go to? The CEO? The Board of Directors? The CEO’s wife? Or does the HR Manager go right to the EEOC?
One thing you may want to consider is to have a third party that can act as that outlet or bypass. Perhaps an attorney or (ahem) a good consultant that has the ability to help recitfy the situation by dealing with the offending superior in a straight foward manner. There are also options of 1-800 number reporting mechanisms, though that doesn’t work well for a small company, but does for larger companies that have multiple locations. I have seen that used by a fast food chain before.
It is clear however, that all policies must have such a harassment reporting “bypass”. Look at yours and see if it can be used by everyone. And if you don’t have one, well, give me a call….

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