to address harassment, bullying and discrimination
with Stephen Hammond
Tip #15 — CONSIDERING THE COST OF HARASSMENT - 1
As a supervisor, if you spot a harassment problem or someone brings it to your attention, and you deal with it immediately, your costs will be negligible. You shouldn't have any out-of-pocket expenses, although it will take some time away from the operational side of your business.
If you ignore a situation and an employee goes to a human rights commission or tribunal, you could be looking at a lot of time and money. You'll certainly end up spending company dollars if, in response to the complaint, you go overboard by firing an employee and it's later determined this wasn't warranted. It's a bit like Goldilocks and the Three Bears. It doesn't have to be "just right," but it needs to be close.
If management represents your business without a lawyer, you won't have the legal costs, but the company could rack up tens, and in some cases hundreds, of hours of time defending and explaining harassment allegations. If it is resolved without going to a tribunal (most get dealt with before going to a tribunal), you or your business will need to agree to a settlement that might include a financial award and harassment training for some or all of your employees. If the case is settled in your favour, you won't have to pay anything. If you do not settle, and your case goes to a tribunal, not only will you have to spend hours and hours preparing for and being present at the hearing, but you will have to endure months and months of waiting for the case to be resolved.
1) Your time is money - something very precious. When asked what people really want, it's usually “time." When we're spending time on any part of a harassment complaint, that is taking time away from the job we've been paid to do. That's costly.
2) Better to go back than ignore going forward - as we so often do. When an incident has caught us off-guard and we don't do anything right away, we often decide to let sleeping dogs lie and we carry on. If it's serious, it shouldn't matter how much time has passed.
3) Look for settlements - not at all costs, but at some cost. This will likely be out of the hands of most supervisors and managers, but when you're part of the process, even when it's part of a formal process (such as a commission) look for ways to settle. You'll have already established your backing away point before hand, so see what you can do to settle this to a mutual benefit.