Posted April 3rd, 2014 by Duken


The general goal of the employer is to represent what s/he perceives as the interests of the institution.

Avoid Litigation

One of the primary goals is to avoid litigation, because litigation and possibly losing a court case are very expensive, and also negatively affect the reputation of the institution.

Avoid Scandal

The employer will like to keep a low profile. Any media coverage, for instance, will jeopardize the reputation of the institution.

Save Resources (Money, Time)

The employer needs to wisely allocate the resources of the institution, and will try to minimize the cost of the investigation.

Keep Successful Employees

The employer will be reluctant to give up on employees crucial to the success of the enterprise.

Be Consistent With Mission and Institutional Culture

Consistent with the mission of the institution, the employer is likely to be biased either towards the victim or the alleged harasser. If having a harassment-free, women-friendly workplace is high on the list, the employer may try to get rid of a “morally sick harasser”, and will be biased against the alleged harasser. If the quality of work is more important, the employer may hope to keep a top-notch employee that is crucial to the success of the institution. In this case, the employer will probably be biased against a “mentally unstable troublemaker”.  Any such bias towards the alleged harasser or the victim may have a much larger impact on the outcome of an investigation than the facts.


Legal Outlook

Trying to avoid a law suit, employers rarely follow their gut feelings, but they are directed in every action by the institution’s lawyers. This often eliminates straightforward and honest communication, and makes it very difficult to find satisfactory informal solutions to the conflict.

Being Diplomatic

Trying to avoid litigation or a scandal, employers will try hard to keep both parties satisfied, and make them feel like they receive all the support they need.  He or she may try to calm them down, by saying to the victim: “We are sorry this happened. We will take care of the situation and make sure this will not happen again.” and to the alleged harasser: “We trust you 100%. We are sure the issue can be solved in a way that is satisfactory for everybody.”
Delaying or slowing down an investigation may also be a good strategy, as this may wear the parties out, and makes them less likely to fight the outcome of the investigation.

Determining Resources For Investigation

One way in which an employer may bias the outcome of an investigation is by determining the resources assigned to the investigation. For example, he or she may appoint a staff member who is not sufficiently trained and does not have much clout within the institution and is thus unlikely to turn up compelling evidence.

Intimidation &Threats

Employers sometimes use their power by intimidating or threatening victims, investigators, or anyone whose actions might cause an undesired outcome.

Isolate Victim or Harasser

Employers will usually discourage that the parties involved talk to anyone about the incidence. While neither the victim nor the alleged harasser usually feel like talking about the experience with many people, their silence can also create a sense of isolation. This can lead to a lack of support later  when they want to fight what they perceive as an injust decision. In fact, the employer’s bias (towards victim or alleged harasser) can often be determined by looking at who is temporarily removed from the workplace (while the investigation lasts).

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