When does the unwanted attention of a colleague become harassment?

When does the unwanted attention of a colleague become harassment?

August 31, 2019

From time to time, people meet at work. Hey, me and Mr Edmunds met at work, and his first attempt to get my attention was as a footer to an email. Sadly some people use email to harass colleagues who have already advised the other party that they are not interested. For employers this is a serious matter. If you have an employee who has reported that they are receiving unwanted attention from a work colleague at work, thats harassment and you must investigate as a matter of urgency. 

First steps are to investigate…

Conduct an investigation to establish the facts

  • Gather information from the employee receiving the emails with regards to the content/nature of the emails, how these emails make the employee feel, how long have they been receiving the emails, have they still got the emails and can show you, have they ever responded to the sender?
  • Ensure you show full support to the employee and explain that this is very serious and you will deal with it as such.
  • Arrange an investigatory meeting with the sender explaining the concerns raised to you, explain the seriousness of the accusation.
  • Can the sender show you email exchanges? Have any emails been received? What is the intention of the emails? Are they aware that the emails are unwanted and how did they know this? If they continued to send them after they were aware of the other party’s feelings why did they continue?

Consider evidence gathered and make an informed decision regarding the outcome of the investigation

  • Consider the investigation and decide if it can be nipped in the bud with a formal documented conversation or whether it is deemed necessary to proceed to a disciplinary.
  • If the decision is made to go down the formal disciplinary route follow your disciplinary procedure.
  • If the decision is made to put a formal documented conversation on the employee’s file and the behaviour re-occurs start formal disciplinary proceedings by following your disciplinary procedure.

What is important to remember is how the employee receiving the unwanted emails feels when coming to work.

This attention is unwanted and as such could be very uncomfortable for them to receive. Work should be a safe place!

Dealing with this quickly and seriously is imperative to ensure a continued happy workforce.

If you need any assistance with dealing with a similar situation in your workplace please get in touch, 01527 909436.

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