How to act in harassment situations

In this chapter, we will deal with harassment cases and present some instructions on how to process the situations. We will first go through instructions for those who have experienced harassment and for those accused of harassment. After this, we will explain how organisations can process harassment situations.

3. Processing harassment cases in organisations

3.4. How to process reports of harassment

  1. Take the situation seriously. Start resolving the situation without delay.
  2. Find out what has happened from both the person who has experienced harassment and the person accused of harassment. Let them describe the incident in their own words and treat both of them in an equal and just manner. Both need to be allowed to state their point of view and be heard.
  3. Ask both parties how they would like to proceed with resolving the situation. Sometimes, people just want to report the harassment they have experienced and receive assurances that what they have experienced is true. Getting to simply give feedback to the other person may sometimes satisfy both parties.
    • Sometimes, people may have unrealistic wishes, such as getting the other person expelled from an organisation. Harassment contact persons do not hand out or decide on sanctions. Explain your role and its purpose openly. If the person still wants the other party to be sanctioned, advise them to discuss the matter with the board.
  4. If the parties request it, arrange a discussion between them. You can read more about this under the section ‘Discussion between the parties’.
  5. Monitor the situation. Make sure that everyone follows any further measures you have agreed on. You can, for instance, contact the parties after a month or two to ask them how things have been going. At this point, you can also ask them for feedback on the process.
  6. Sometimes, one or both parties may be dissatisfied with the way the matter was processed. The dissatisfaction may stem from several different reasons and does not mean that the process was a failure.
    • Feedback on the process may be perfectly fine, but people may sometimes weaponise constant feedback and contacting the people involved in an organisation. In such cases, you should respond to the contact in a strict but civil manner, telling the person that the matter will not be processed further unless the situation has continued or changed. After this, you can leave any further contacts unanswered.