Case Study: Reducing Risk and Liability Through Harassment and Discrimination Training

The Client

A number of organizations engage with Synergy to confidentially assist in the sensitive area of reducing risk and liability. One such manufacturing client needed Synergy’s two-pronged approach.

The Challenge

It’s essential that every enterprise properly educates its workforce on the topics of general harassment, sexual harassment, and discrimination in order to lower liability and provide a healthy environment and culture. Training of this nature should examine what qualifies as harassment or discrimination by studying real-world examples in an effort to help identify and curtail negative behavior. Effective training also provides resources and support so employees know what steps to take should they experience or witness any such activity. Unfortunately, this proactive approach is often neglected until an incident occurs.

A business reached out to Synergy in response to an employee incident that initially required reactive liability expertise. As soon as possible, in this case three days, Synergy dispatched an HR Field Representative and our Director of Training and Development to the client’s premises to investigate the allegations, analyze the findings, and formulate definitive recommendations. The greatest challenge in this process was to gather facts impartially and determine the truth.

The Solution

To best discover factual information during an investigation, Synergy employs a three-point process. Firstly, open-ended questions are used to gather initial information. Secondly, the source of the information as well as the credibility and history of the interviewee is studied. Third, information uncovered in the interviews is fact-checked and corroborated in any way possible, including security camera footage, witness accounts, and other documentation. Verifying the hard proof in this way then allows for our field team to review matters with the full disposal of Synergy’s in-house expertise, including our VP of Human Resources, in order to formulate the appropriate recommendations.

At the same time, it was apparent that our client lacked regular risk and liability training that would have prevented this incident from occurring. Along with recommendations related to the problem at hand, Synergy offered a plan moving forward to help the company improve in this area. When training, it is important to differentiate between employees and management for a number of reasons. Should a manager observe or is notified of a certain situation or behavior, they immediately become liable for that piece of information. They must be able to recognize it as harassment or discrimination in order take the proper action. Regular trainings with this goal in mind were recommended to our client for a proactive solution moving forward.

The Result

Within one week, Synergy successfully completed an impartial investigation and provided appropriate recommendations for disciplinary action that equaled the severity of the claim. Our client was satisfied with the resolution of this incident, and was pleased at the speed at which it reached a conclusion. As a result, our client recognized the need for ongoing risk and liability training and adopted Synergy’s training program on a recurring basis of every three years.

While trainings cannot 100% guarantee the elimination of risk, they are necessary in order to create a benchmark of knowledge and accountability. Employees are asked to sign a receipt at the conclusion of training that states they understand policies and procedures and take ownership of their actions. Our manufacturing client now enjoys the perks of regular training, including reduced risk, fewer lawsuits, and an increased level of trust and morale within a more stable company culture. With a clear and direct zero tolerance policy in place, inappropriate behavior has been curtailed and is less likely to occur in the future.

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