Investigation into workplace harassment

As we can all experience in the media, attention for cases of workplace harassment has grown in recent times. Organizations struggle with the question of how to best respond to these kinds of allegations. The increasing attention for this theme is caused by a number of factors:

There is an increasing need for taking responsibility, transparency in general and an augmenting interest in the well-being of employees. This in combination with the pursuit of an inclusive and diverse working environment. These factors lead to earlier detection and therefore increasing attention to cases of workplace harassment

Harassment has a negative effect on the productivity of an organization through absenteeism or lower productivity. Cases of harassment may also lead to media attention or have consequences for the reputation of the company.

The #MeToo movement has drawn attention to the existence of harassment and abuse in the workplace. The topic is on everyone's agenda. This means that more people than before dare to report incidents. These reports deserve careful action from the part of the employer.

On the one hand, social media lead to new forms of harassment and victims are created online. On the other hand, technology offers increasing opportunities to detect and demonstrate harassment.

Tightened legislation regarding subjects such as workplace harassment and discrimination forces organizations to take cases of harassment seriously and, for example, to investigate related allegations.

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Investigations into incidents of inappropriate behavior require special attention due to the subjective nature of the subjects to be investigated. Inappropriate behavior for one person does not necessarily have to be inappropriate for someone else. This requires special qualities from investigators, such as the ability to interview effectively and knowledge of specific regulations and legislation, always bearing in mind the interests of every person and the organization involved. The quality requirements for investigations, which also apply to forensic investigations, must never be lost out of sight. These include applying the principle of hearing both sides of the argument, factual reporting, confidentiality, and privacy legislation.

We can therefore ideally help with research into cases of workplace harassment. This includes:

  • Conducting an independent investigation on behalf of an organization;
  • Providing skills to conduct the investigation internally, through an appropriate training program;
  • Providing support for internal investigations with specific skills, such as interviewing traumatized employees or offering eDiscovery methods to examine data for signals of inappropriate behavior.

In this context, we have designed a simulation game related to a case of workplace harassment,  which also serves to evaluate your internal processes and thus determine to what extent your organization is equipped to respond adequately to allegations of harassment. As part of this simulation, the broader consequences, such as possible media attention and possible damage to the reputation of the organization are also discussed.

Workplace harassment is a sensitive topic that deserves careful attention. Sometimes an investigation is necessary and sometimes not. The interests of every individual involved should never be left out of sight. We would be happy to discuss with you, how we can help you effectively.

Contact us

Christine Manders

Christine Manders

Senior Director, PwC Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)88 792 67 69

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