Handling harassment cases in the workplace depends on a solid comprehension of key concepts.
I’ve been noticing a trend in the reporting of harassment in the workplace and in the investigation thereof. A lack of understanding the concept of a nexus. To begin, a definition: a connection or series of connections linking two or more things.
Seems simple, yes? No.
Some of the cases I have investigated recently have featured such logic as:
A) I am a woman (man/young/old/tall/short, etc).
B) Something bad happened to me.
C) Therefore the person that did the bad thing is sexist (ageist, etc).
Do we all see the flaw? It is a bit easier when boiled down to the essentials, but for a surprising number of people, the above seems quite reasonable.
However, could it be that the accused individual was just a bad person, doing bad things to lots of people, for a variety of reasons? I would submit that yes, of course it is possible. And that’s the problem with the above argument.
The problem is not just contained to the folks reporting harassment in the workplace, the difficulty with the logic persists in Human Resource professionals and in fact with some highly paid external consultants. I have had the opportunity to review work done by both groups and have found variations of this theme in the work.
Let me be as clear as I try to be when I write Final Reports on Harassment complaints in the workplace; there must be evidence to link concepts. You cannot simply skip over the logic in an attempt to prove causality, the logic is essential in the investigation and ultimately, the appropriate resolution of, all complaints in the workplace.
I have made it my mission to help Investigators think about and refine their craft, while doing the same with my skills. Let’s connect and improve the industry together!
Questions or comments? I would love to hear from you.