Harassment is a common issue in many workplaces. Not only does it make a lot of employees uncomfortable around other people, it also affects the quality of their work. The worst part is that the harasser may not just be a fellow employee; the boss, supervisor, manager, a member of the board of directors, or even a customer may be the one who's harassing an employee.

The gender, race, disability, age, looks, sexual preference, religion or nationality of a person is an important factor in determining why he's being harassed. However, laws like the Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 prohibit acts of harassment from happening to anyone because of the said factors.

If an employee experienced boss/ manager harassment, it may be better to talk it over with the superior responsible before having an HR personnel look into it. The boss, in turn, must not send the employee away because it may only make him look guiltier. Here are some steps that bosses should take when talking to an employee that they might have offended.

  • It'll be better to have the conversation right away to show that you care for what the employee has to say.

  • Do not interrupt the employee while he/she is talking.

  • Write down everything he/she said accurately. Explain the reason why you want to take notes of what the employee is saying.

  • Do not ask judgmental questions or explain your conduct to the employee.

  • It's a good idea to read your notes back to the employee to make sure that everything you've written down is correct.

  • Tell the employee that the information will only be share to concerned people on a "need to know" basis.

  • Explain that the HR will likely to be in touch with the employee as they will conduct an investigation regarding the complaint. The next steps will also be relayed to him/her as soon as possible.

  • Thank the employee after the conversation.

Having a good conversation with your employee regarding harassment complaints is important. Bosses and managers, after all, are leaders who should be promoting professionalism by forbidding offensive behavior in the workplace. Settling this kind of case early on prevents further damage to the company, even in financial terms.