The number of sexual harassment claims has dramatically increased in recent years. Many people and organizations feel this cause of action is overused. They fear large legal bills as well as a disruption in productivity and morale.
Allegations of sexual harassment often leave employers and co-workers trying to determine the credibility of two equally valued employees. Such tenuous judgment calls put employers in an uncomfortable and difficult position. Court battles absorb valuable employee time and incur large legal fees. Most importantly, litigation produces a winner and a loser, thereby damaging employer/employee relationships and reputations.
Mediation is an alternative to resolving sexual harassment claims.
Typically, sexual harassment claims involve three parties: the complainant (an employee), the accused (usually an employee), and the employer. The complainant has usually felt violated or abused in some way wants the unwelcome behavior to stop, but does not want to put his or her career in jeopardy by filing the complaint. The complainant usually wants to avoid any further emotional trauma.
The accused wants to protect the confidentiality of the charges to the greatest extent possible, and to keep his or her job. The accused also wants exoneration if possible. Since sexual harassment does not require intent, often the accused wants to know what he or she did wrong and would like the opportunity to make amends for unintended harm.
The employer wants to avoid financial loss and liability. The employer wants to maintain the productivity and commitment of the work force and to uphold company policies. The employer wants to maintain good, productive employees and a harmonious working relationship.
The process of Mediation is an excellent venue, away from the emotional and financial burden of the courts, to address and resolve issues surrounding allegations of sexual harassment.