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Sexual harassment in the workplace

Sexual Harassment Claims & How to Deal with Them

If you happen to have secured your social media feed to only positive news stories or post from families, you may have missed the huge scandal out of Hollywood towards the end of last year.

In early October 2017, reports began to surface regarding multiple sexual harassment claims by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein that spanned over decades.

Thanks to the power of media and public condemnation of Weinstein, the story seemed to emboldened others to come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct against other well-known celebrities. Dubbed the Weinstein Ripple Effect, fans of A-List celebrities became terrified that their own loved ones would join the list. Many did.

Much closer to home the NZ business world is seeing a similar increase in sexual harassment claims from their employees. Think Russell McVeagh and the issues they are now dealing with. An organisation is affected by the complaints even if they are found not to be proved.

The other side of the coin is perhaps equally as challenging. For example, should the male or female be accused and found guilty of their acts, the employer is scrutinised for hiring such persons. In major cases, this can put the whole business on hold until further, major actions in employment are conducted.

If your organisation happens to go through such events, it’s crucial to handle it in the correct way that is both legal and right for the people involved. Management of the issue should follow these standard processes:

· Complaint (formal statements)

· Scene in which the complaint is being made

· Witnesses

· Exhibits

· Suspects or Offender interviews to comply with the requirements of NZ Employment Law and criminal law.

When interviews are conducted, the legal requirements can produce a level of uncertainty for the executives involved. That’s why experienced Private Investigators are necessary to conduct and include in the operation.

The "Me Too" movement or #MeToo social media movement, spread virally in October 2017 to help demonstrate the widespread prevalence of sexual assault and harassment within the workplace.

This phrase, as well as the #TimesUp movement was popularized by Alyssa Milano who encouraged women to tweet that they have been a subjected to sexual misconduct. "I want to give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem right now" she said. The phrase was posted and shared over a million times since then. Those that shared it and expressed their own stories were celebrities, senior executives, and employees to workforces from many backgrounds. The hashtag went viral and produced stories from all over the world.

As a result of the movements, the Ministry of Business, Immigration and Employment will establish a national register of workplace sexual misconduct by July 2018. A Ministerial directive has been issued that there will be consequences for Employers who fail to deal adequately with these complaints.

These matters are important and covered in the media more than ever. There are now concrete, legal steps you will need to take if a case is made against one of your employees.

On April 10th at the Novotel Hotel, Auckland Airport, we will be running an event in partnership with Veritas Investigations with a focus on internal employee investigations. This event will encompass a New Zealand first scenario exercise unique to our delegates which help support you in your own resilience and preparedness for such events. Post event, you will be provided with a program on exploring your next steps and current procedures.

Spaces are very limited, book your space now:

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