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#WhyIDidntReport ? An Employee Hotline Can Help

Published Wednesday, September 26, 2018
by Gail Cecchettini Whaley, Esq.

 

The controversy over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the United States Supreme Court spawned a new, trending Twitter hashtag after some questioned why Professor Christine Blasey Ford didn’t report her alleged sexual assault by Kavanaugh over 35 years ago.

Using the hashtag #WhyIDidntReport, there have been hundreds of thousands of tweets from women and men recounting why it took them so many years to talk about the sexual attacks they experienced (over 675,000 tweets in the first week alone).

Reasons for not reporting included feeling scared, powerless, intimidated, ashamed, or that they wouldn’t be believed. Others reported that they did tell someone, like a family member or a friend, but were discouraged from going any further with the report. The reason people don’t report can be demonstrated by what has happened to Dr. Ford since she went public – death threats, hacking, being forced to leave her home, dismissiveness, and having her own credibility and reputation questioned.

CEA now offers an Employee Action Hotline which allows employers, in addition to having an open door policy, another outlet for employees to voice concerns of misconduct in the workplace.

Silence at Work

A recent CareerBuilder survey shows that nearly three-quarters (72%) of those who have been sexually harassed at work don’t report the incident!

A quick Twitter search of the #WhyIDidntReport hashtag provides revealing information about why employees didn’t report sexual misconduct:

• “[H]e owned the company and was sleeping with the head of HR.”
• “We had no HR department, no protocol.”
• “[W]e didn’t have a real HR dept because we were a small, new company, he was the CEO...I figured why would anyone care about 20-something me in customer service.”
• “I was afraid I’d lose my job and afraid that it’d be harder to find a new job...after tattling to HR.”
• “I did report it. I was asked about my attire and what I did to prevent it by my manager. HR...retaliated against me until I quit.”

Employer’s Duty

California law requires employers to have a complaint process in place that includes information on how an employee can bring a complaint, the investigatory process, and supervisor reporting obligations. The complaint process must be included in an employers’ written anti-harassment policy. California businesses have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discriminatory and harassing conduct.

Employers are legally required to inform employees that they don’t need to complain directly to their immediate supervisors since the supervisor might be the one doing the harassing. And, employers must provide employees with alternative reporting options such as:

• Direct communication with a designated representative (like an HR manager)
• Access to an ombudsman for harassment and discrimination complaints
• A complaint hotline

Employees also need to be informed that they can go directly to federal or state agencies (EEOC or DFEH) with their complaints.

Benefits of an Employee Action Hotline

Hotlines can help an employee feel safer coming forward with their concerns and allow employers to be proactive in handling any issues raised before they escalate into an actionable claim. A hotline can also act to deter employees from engaging in misconduct in the first place.

CEA now offers an Employee Action Hotline which provides an outlet for employee concerns. The Employee Action Hotline provides your business with an 800 number that employees can call anytime, from anywhere, 24/7. In addition to reporting harassment or discrimination, employees can also report workplace violence, safety issues, retaliation, fraud, or other misconduct. A third party interview specialist will capture all information provided by the caller – the caller can choose to remain anonymous. CEA will deliver a report to the employer’s designated contact the next business day.

The Employee Action Hotline is a great resource to help businesses meet their compliance obligations and provide a better, safer workplace for employees.


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