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What happens when HR is the source of harassment?

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Amie Khalifa

User

( 6 months ago )

 

The news these days is rife with the #MeToo movement helping women find their voice against sexual harassment in their company or line of work. Everyone who has come out as an expert on the topic insists that the first thing a victim of harassment should do is report it to HR or the equivalent within their sphere.

But what happens if HR itself is the perpetrator, and the harassment starts all the way at the top with the Director? And to further flip the coin, what if the gender roles are also reversed? That is, the HR department is all female and the target of their harassment is exclusively males?

Some further details that may help paint the picture:

  • Several males in the office, from different departments, are seated in and around the HR team, and are subject to lewd jokes and inappropriate conversations on a daily basis.
  • The HR staff boast about having been sexually harassed by men before, but let it continue because the harasser was attractive.
  • When anyone on the team hints that their behavior might get them in trouble the HR director boasts that "The company can't fire [her]".
  • The HR team constantly talks about employees behind their backs in very derogatory language, including loudly offering up details of employee complaints/issues which should be strictly private.

In summary: What course of action should one take when the HR department is the source of verbal/sexual harassment, and there's no third-party mediator to arbitrate complaints?

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NeelKamal Jha

User

( 6 months ago )

In a case like this, the only person who can fix it is the CEO. First document the behavior with dates, times, and the name of the person who said something offensive. Then when you have a good long list, have your manager bring it to the CEO. Personally I would concentrate on this part because it is the most likely to get action and is the least subjective (and totally unprofessional for an HR, it is a firing offense):

The HR team constantly talks about employees behind their backs in very derogatory language, including loudly offering up details of employee complaints/issues which should be strictly private.

Having a lawyer write a cease and desist letter to the CEO if no action is taken could also help this. Sometimes a public shaming in the press works (but does put your job at risk, so don't do it lightly or without expecting the worst consequences.)

If you don't want to pursue this legally, then the best bet is to move on.

what's your interest


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